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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# PledgesLbs CO2/ pledgeTotal lbs of CO2# Cars taken off road
Change a Light Bulb20,3061,44029,248,2532,765
Leave your Car in the Dust11,9307,93194,621,0218,947
Power Up6,70113,08987,712,1098,294
Drive Smart6,57112,00078,852,0007,456
End Junk Mail19,94146917,28686
Power Down21,96997521,438,6022,027
Buy Local13,6762473,386,282320
Geek Out5,93918,8100
Wash and Wear10,85310,284111,616,51110554
TOTAL 124,062 427,800,87740,453

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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