An Inconvenient Truth: A Call to Action

My wife and I went with our friends Craig and Kristin to see An Inconvenient Truth last night. In our case, Al Gore was preaching to the choir, since we needed no convincing that global warming is a very real and very urgent issue. Yet the movie still had a big impact on me. It is extremely well done and will spur people into action. Go see the movie, you’ll be inspired to act. Children will thank you. And while the problem is huge, it is not intractable, as Gore points out. There is no one thing that will solve the problem. Instead, lots of little things need to happen.

What can you do? Plant a tree — a single tree will absorb a ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime. Drive less. When you drive, keep your tires inflated and improve your gas mileage. A gallon gas saved keeps twenty pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Have an energy audit done on your home and reduce your energy consumption. Energy conservation is the low-hanging fruit when it comes to making a dent in emissions, and it will save you money.

Write to your local congressman, and urge them to support clean energy and conservation measures. If you’ve lost faith in the political process, then vote with your dollars as a consumer, which in today’s world may be the most powerful vote you can cast.

If you must own a car, go buy a hybrid. I am a happy owner of a Toyota Prius and a Lexus 400h. If you are able, install a PV system at your house. Today, I just ordered a 3kW SunPower system that will be installed on our garage roof by the fine folks at Namaste Solar in August. This system won’t zero-out our electric bill (we don’t have enough roof-space for that) but it will reduce it by about 30% and will keep over 8,000 pounds of carbon dioxide out of our atmosphere every year.

If you are looking for a smaller-ticket item, replace your light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs and keep 150 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the air for each incandescent bulb you replace. Donate, so that someone else may see the movie for free. Use a carbon calculator to determine how much carbon dioxide emissions you are responsible for, and then purchase offsets that will fund clean energy projects and enable you to have a carbon-neutral or carbon-negative impact on the world. Purchasing offsets is not akin to buying indulgences to assuage one’s guilt, it puts real money towards real clean energy infrastructure projects.

Cooking the Earth in our own exhaust would quite literally be the ultimate (and final) Tragedy of the Commons. Go do something about it. Go see the film. Then go throw your time at the problem, throw your money at the problem, throw your influence at the problem, but do something about it. It is the RIght Thing to do.

(Thanks to Joi Ito for the link to sharethetruth, and to Acterra for their carbon dioxide statistics and suggestions on ways to help stop global warming)