Last week I posted this poll and promised to follow-up with more.
I’m glad I did the poll first because I have to admit I was quite surprised by the results. As of today the results show that 50% of those who voted believe that global warming is not a reality but simply a scare tactic of environmentalists. The definition of global warming is “the increase in the average temperature of the Earth’s near-surface air and oceans since the mid-20th century and its projected continuation.” Scientist generally agree that from 1905 to 2005 (we have accurate temperature records for the last 100 years) the “global surface temperature” has increased about 1.3 degrees. There is much debate about what is causing this general warming, but very little about whether it’s actually happening or not. The numbers from the data over the last 100 years simply prove that our earth is slowly getting warmer.
It is theorized by most scientists that the increase in temperature is due, in part, to the increase in anthropogenic gases, or gases that are produced primarily from human activities. There are lots of greenhouse gases produced from many different sources and this post could quickly get very technical and over my head. So I’m going to try to keep it very simple and use a very easy example, carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is generated as a by-product when fossil fuels are burned. So every fossil fuel power plant and everything that requires power drawn from such a plant is creating and releasing carbon dioxide. Every time we drive a car we burn fossil fuel and release carbon dioxide into the air. You can imagine that creates a lot of gas! It is estimated that each individual produces about 17.3 cubic tons of carbon dioxide each year from their daily lifestyle!
Now, I know that we could probably get into a pretty heated debate about whether or not carbon dioxide really does contribue to the overall increase in global temperature. But instead of going down that long and winding road, how about if we just stop for a second and ask what if? What if it’s true and every time we drive, drink out of a plastic bottle, burn recycleable garbage, etc. we are essentially heating up our earth? Studies of past and present weather trends and snow pack in the Rocky Mountain Region (sorry that’s where I live) estimate that by the year 2100 the average temperate in a best case senario, meaning we’ve drastically reduced greenhouse gas emissions, will have raised by 8.5 degrees!. That means that our snowpack, our water during the summer months, will be almost 54% less than what it currently is! Worst case senarios predict that the temperature will rise over 15 degrees. That would mean no snowpack in the mountain. Scary!
Now, the flip side, what if it’s all a big hoax? What if greenhouse gases aren’t really causing our earth to heat up? What if we do work really hard, make sacarfices to cut down on our gas emissions and it doesn’t change things? Would we have we wasted our time, money, and energy?
I would say no. I would say that we have done the best we could to manage the resources we have on this earth. I would argue that we have simply been good stewards of the Lord’s earth and while the results did not turn out as we thought, we were faithful with what was given to us. One reader’s comment well expressed my feelings on this matter. She basically said, whether or not global warming is actually happening, why shouldn’t we be trying to reduce waste in our lives? I feel that as believers it is our responsiblity to be smart with ALL our resources; money, time, food, plants, animals, and our habitat.
So, what can you do to decrease your individual impact on our earth and be a good steward?
Think about doing one, some, or all of these basic suggestions:
1. Drive a fuel effecient car.
2. Make as few car trips as possible by carpooling and combining trips so you’re not driving as often.
4. Replace all the old light bulbs in your house with the newer more effecient bulbs. Yes they cost more, but they typically last between two and eight years, so they really end up paying for themselves!
5. Turn all those lights in your house off.
6. Turn off your computer when you go to bed.
7. When you have to replace applicances, buy Energy Star rated applicances.
8. Turn your termostat down in the winter and up in the summer. Just a degree or two makes a big difference.
9. Purchase wind power. Many power companies offer this option. By doing this your are supporting alternative energy sources and making them more readliy available.
10. Replace or recaulk windows and doors to keep your warm or cold air inside your house.
11. Add more/thicker insulation in your attic.
12. Make a compost. Visit this site for a really simple and cheap one to make.
13. Hang clothes to dry instead of using the dryer. It’s actually much better on your clothes too.
14. Whenever possible, don’t buy items packed in plastic. Use a water filter instead of buying bottled water and request paper instead of plastic at the grocery store. Or better still, bring your own resuable bags! Many stores will give you a 5 cent credit for every bag you bring in.
15. Shop locally made/grown products whenever possible.
This is just a really basic and short list. There are TONS of ways to decrease waste and emissions. What ways can you think of to be a good steward of our earth? I’d love to hear your ideas.