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Measuring the effect of citizen action on climate change

Yahoo! celebrates Earth DayEvery reporter seems to hit us with the following question: “How can one person’s action really make a difference on climate change”. Usually we refer to recycling and the vision that if as many people were as concientous about their carbon emissions as their soda cans, our greenhouse gas emissions would look a lot different.

To prove our point, we took a stab at the math behind a recent Yahoo! earth day promotion. The promotion consisted of a simple web page with 10 climate-fighting actions that visitors could pledge to take. The total pledges (124,062) translate into a whopping 428 million pounds of CO2, the equivalent of taking over 40,000 cars off the road (full calculations available here).

Pledge # Pledges Lbs CO2/ pledge Total lbs of CO2 # Cars taken off road
Change a Light Bulb 20,306 1,440 29,248,253 2,765
Leave your Car in the Dust 11,930 7,931 94,621,021 8,947
Power Up 6,701 13,089 87,712,109 8,294
Drive Smart 6,571 12,000 78,852,000 7,456
End Junk Mail 19,941 46 917,286 86
Power Down 21,969 975 21,438,602 2,027
Buy Local 13,676 247 3,386,282 320
Geek Out 5,939 1 8,810 0
Wash and Wear 10,853 10,284 111,616,511 10554
TOTAL 124,062   427,800,877 40,453

The total impact is huge. And most of the pledges are fairly simple to integrate into your personal life. For those who were awoken from their climate-change awareness slumber, these are all good ways you can take it a little further. Of course, taking a pledge isn’t the same thing as taking action on a pledge, so please make sure to follow through.

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