Friday, October 23, 2009

350 - About Climate Change

Brighter Planet's 350 Challenge

Tomorrow is an important day.

It is the International Day of Climate Action.

One man, Bill McKibben, came up with the idea of uniting the world around reducing carbon emissions to actually cause climate change. And now, there will be 4641 different actions taken in 177 different countries around the world.

I'm impressed.

Here is the mission statement from the website:n (Written Version) is an international campaign dedicated to building a movement to unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis--the solutions that science and justice demand.

Our mission is to inspire the world to rise to the challenge of the climate crisis—to create a new sense of urgency and of possibility for our planet.

Our focus is on the number 350--as in parts per million, the level scientists have identified as the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere. But 350 is more than a number--it's a symbol of where we need to head as a planet.

To tackle climate change we need to move quickly, and we need to act in unison—and 2009 will be an absolutely crucial year. This December, world leaders will meet in Copenhagen, Denmark to craft a new global treaty on cutting emissions. The problem is, the treaty currently on the table doesn't meet the severity of the climate crisis—it doesn't pass the 350 test.

In order to unite the public, media, and our political leaders behind the 350 goal, we're harnessing the power of the internet to coordinate a planetary day of action on October 24, 2009. We hope to have actions at hundreds of iconic places around the world - from the Taj Mahal to the Great Barrier Reef to your community - and clear message to world leaders: the solutions to climate change must be equitable, they must be grounded in science, and they must meet the scale of the crisis.

If an international grassroots movement holds our leaders accountable to the latest climate science, we can start the global transformation we so desperately need.

You, too, can Take Action!

You can also participate in a 350 Action near you. Go to the 350.0rg website and see what is happening in your neck of the woods. You might be surprised.

A friend of mine, Jay Trainer and his organization Artful Change are holding a free carbon neutral on-line funndraiser concert tomorrow to raise awareness and funds for San Francisco based environmental causes.

This is just one example of thousands.

I'm going to ride my bike to work, again, today.

What will you do?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Saving the Planet

I saw the premiere of "The Age of Stupid" here in SF. We went to a theater that had a live feed to the premiere in NY. This is the same little bit of technology that allows people to see live opera from the Met in New York in their local theater. This technology is amazing to me. One could, in theory, link the world through local theaters to all see the same broadcast at the same time. Very 1984. I digress.

The movie is set in the future, post disaster, after we have done nothing but talk about global warming. It is a disturbing film that follows the stories of six people living now and their struggles with the global warming question. Here is a review of the movie, written by Mr. Green and picked up by a blogger named piece 2.0:

The movie left me feeling overwhelmed and wondering what I could possibly do to stop being a contributor to the problem. How do we really buy out of the oil pipeline? Like Really. Without sacrificing things that are important to us and without it becoming some sort of weird obsession.

I've been mulling this over for a while now. I've decided that, as I explore the options for personal sustainability, I'll share them here. I already do quite a few things to make my earth footprint smaller. I ride my bike, garden, sort my trash, eat local food, dine in restaurants who seek out local ingredients, turn the light switch off, keep the heat at 68 degrees and I don't buy a lot of stuff.

We'll start with one of those. . . I bike to work at least 3 days a week, weather permitting. I take the bus home more often than not.

This does not mean that I'm never in the car. Mr. Green drives me to work probably once a week, on average, depending upon what I'm doing. Sometimes I need to run errands for myself or work. Sometimes I just don't want to spend an hour on the bus. Take today, for example. It's pouring rain. Mr. Green will be driving me. Will he drive me home? Possibly. I'll decide later this afternoon.

How inconvenienced am I willing to be? That's the real question, isn't it? I get that right now there are people screaming "Stupid Spoiled American!" at their computer screens. It's true. I am. I have the privilege of access to a car. Could we choose to use it smarter? Absolutely.

We won't be getting a more fuel-efficient car. We own the truck. It gets about 15 miles to the gallon in the city and 20 on the freeway. This isn't great, but it is what it is. We paid it off last winter and, unless someone hands us a set of keys, we'll be driving it for a couple years longer. Of course, there are great fuel-efficient choices out there. And, if you are like me and are not in particularly impressed by the body style of the 3rd generation Prius (can you say Ulgy?). You could always drive a Tesla. Now there's a midlife crisis car that's all about sustainability! Saw one on the street over the weekend. Boy do they go zoom-zoom!

We don't really drive a lot now. Comparatively speaking. But there is always room for improvement, right?

Here is what I am willing to do:

Work from home? Would LOVE to! Definitely in my future. With my current job? Possibly. Could probably make the case for one day a week. Never hurts to ask. . .

Ride my bike as often as possible. This can be up to five days per week and also to the Farmers' Market on the weekend.

Batch our trips. If I am going to ride to work in the truck in the morning, we will run all errands that we need to do that day during that trip. Which means anything we forget gets put off until next time. Will take some planning.

Consider using Muni, biking or walking instead of driving the truck Every time we leave the house. This may seem small but I can tell you there are many times that I can recall when we've been driving around downtown looking for parking and have agreed that we should have taken Muni.

Pay an annual carbon offset fee for the miles we drive. This is a grey area for me. I don't think that sending money to someone to grow a tree should let us out of making better choices. . . but, there's also no getting around the fact that som
etimes I will be riding in a car. Yes. I will do this.

I consider it a privilege tax. No different than entertainment tax. There are lots of carbon calculators out there. TerraPass, Carbon Fund and Sustainable Travel International are all good ones.

If carbon offsetting is new to you, here is a short definition from A carbon offset represents a reduction in emissions somewhere else - like a renewable energy or a reforestation project - to balance out the emissions you cannot reduce. Basically, you send money, based on info you enter into a carbon calculator, to a carbon reducing project. With some sites you can choose which project your money will support. With most, you support a portfolio of projects. Here is a more in depth description of why one would do this with some pros and cons.

I want my fee to be used to offset carbon locally. There are a few choices. I like the idea of the Chino Basin Dairy Farm Biodigester. I don't really want to give through one of the websites. I'd rather see the project and hand the project manager a check. For me this is the same as buying a chicken from a farm that I have visited. It makes sense. This will require more research. I'll keep you posted.

What are you doing to save the plant? What are you willing to do? Please leave your comments and suggestions here.

Coming up next. . . Grow Your Own!