Awareness-Advocacy-Action Bulletin #9 – Fossil Fuels = too much heat

greenhouse effect

AWARENESS

(1)   CO2 is an important part of the greenhouse that keeps the earth’s average temperature stable. The earth’s atmosphere allows in radiation from the sun, warming the oceans and land. This heat is then radiated back into space with a different wavelength. CO2 absorbs this heat as it is radiated from earth, and retains some of it in the atmosphere.  National Geographic has a great explanation of the greenhouse effect at http://greenliving.nationalgeographic.com/description-greenhouse-effect-2501.html . Scientists have proven that the increased CO2 comes from burning of fossil fuels. They can prove this by measuring the percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere that can be carbon dated as very old (so it came from fossils) versus natural carbon that is very new. The amount of CO2 from fossil fuels is the cause of the increase in CO2. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_dioxide_in_Earth’s_atmosphere . Current levels of CO2 at 400ppm retains far more energy in the earth’s biosphere each day, estimated as the energy equivalent of 400,000 Hiroshima bombs being exploded every day. As CO2 concentrations increase beyond 400 ppm, the energy retained will only increase.  See http://www.vancouverobserver.com/blogs/climatesnapshot/2012/05/15/global-warming-increasing-400000-atomic-bombs-every-day .
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ADVOCACY

Speak the truth with those who can make a difference:

(1)   You can make a difference in fossil fuel use through your investment selections.  If you own stocks or mutual funds you can eliminate your holdings of fossil fuel companies. www.gofossilfree.org is organizing a national campaign to ask university endowments to divest from the industry. If you own shares in other companies, make it known through letters or at annual meetings that you want management to reduce fossil fuel use and to develop alternatives.  Even better, start or invest in a small business that is dedicated to energy efficiency or alternative energy.

ACTION

Start at home.  From home you can take on the fossil fuel industry where it hurts, in their pocketbook, by reducing the demand for energy.

(1)   Heating water makes up about 18% of the average utility bill according to EPA. If you need to buy a new water heater, pay close attention to the efficiency and type of heater you buy. But whatever kind of heater you have you can save a lot by using less hot water. Wash clothes in cold water. If the water at the tap is too hot to touch without blending cold, then turn the temperature on the water heater down.  When you are taking a vacation you can turn the water heater off at the breaker. Install a low flow shower-head. Repair any leaks. Spend less time in the shower and make taking a tub bath an infrequent luxury.  If you have an older water heater that is not well insulated, invest in a water heater blanket to keep heat from escaping. Check out http://michaelbluejay.com/electricity/waterheaters.html.

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About Brad Rouse

Brad Rouse is a consultant in the fields of climate change response, energy policy, financial planning and economics. He holds a BA degree in economics from Yale University and an MBA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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