Greenhouse gas emissions are upsetting the natural balance of our ecosystem. Learn more about how our planet is changing, how your actions contribute to climate change, and what you can do about it.
What is climate change?
According to the EPA, climate change refers to any significant change in the measures of climate lasting for an extended period of time. In other words, climate change includes major changes in temperature, precipitation, or wind patterns that occur over several decades or longer.
An analogy we like is that climate change is like a baseball player on steroids. A baseball player will still hit home runs if not taking steroids, but as he takes steroids, the frequency and intensity of the home runs increase. Just like we will still have hurricanes, hot days, and other significant climate events without climate change, the frequency and intensity of these events increases with climate change.
How do I contribute to climate change?
In our everyday lives, we all create carbon emissions which make-up our carbon footprint. According to The Union of Concerned Scientists, the average carbon emissions per person in the United States is 17.62 mT per person or the equivalent of keeping 3.7 passenger cars on the road for a year.
How can I reduce my carbon footprint?
The first step to reducing your carbon footprint is knowing where your carbon emissions are coming from. Both individuals and businesses can calculate their carbon footprints by using our Carbon Calculator. Once you have assessed where your carbon emissions are coming from, you can take action to reduce your footprint. Small changes can make a big difference. Below are a few ideas to help you get started.
[toggle title=”Do You Own A Car?”] The average American drives about 12,000 miles a year, and each gallon of gasoline burned creates about 19 lbs of CO2. Reducing the number of miles you drive will reduce the amount of gas you burn. A few ways to reduce driving include clustering your errands so you do not make multiple trips from the house, take public transportation, carpool to work, or ask your boss if you can work from home one day a week.
You can also improve your MPG by properly maintaining your car. Be sure to take your car in for regular tune-ups, keep the tire pressure inflated to the correct PSI, and make sure you are not carrying around extra weight in your trunk. For more good ideas on reducing your carbon footprint from driving, check out these tips from the EPA.[/toggle]
[toggle title=”Do You Own A Home?“]Home energy use is one of the largest contributors to carbon footprints. According to the EPA, heating and cooling accounts for almost half of your annual energy bill. Using a programmable thermostat to adjust your thermostat up 2 degrees in the summer and down 2 degrees in the summer can have a big impact.
Another common but overlooked source of energy use in the home is vampire power, also known as phantom power or standby load. Vampire power refers to devices that are plugged in at home and are constantly sucking energy even when turned off. It is estimated that vampire power accounts for 10% of energy usage in our homes. You can manage vampire power by unplugging devices when not in use or using a power strip for easy management of your devices. Learn more about what you can do to reduce your vampire footprint by visiting standby.lbl.gov[/toggle]
[toggle title=”How Much Trash Do You Discard?“]Did you know that in 2012 Americans generated 251 million tons of trash? That’s a lot. A large portion of this ended up in landfills, which are a big source of greenhouse gas emissions. You can reduce your waste with a few easy actions including recycling, using reusable cups and shopping bags, reducing the amount of bottled water you drink, and composting.[/toggle]
[toggle title=”Do You Travel By Air?“]Flying is one of the few activities that does not have a low carbon alternative.[/toggle]
Even after you’ve done your best to reduce through action, some of these activities will emit greenhouse gases. Carbon offsets let you help build projects in communities across the country that reduce emissions beyond what you could achieve through personal action. Offsets make environmental and economic sense- for emissions that are impossible to reduce, you can use funds to help reduce emissions elsewhere.