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Re: E-M:/ RE: / Ideas Consumers Can Truly Use

Hi Amy,  Regarding your question: What actions/initiatives/tools would help to influence people in making decisions to be more energy efficient, purchase environmentally preferred products?  How do we change this?

One approach is to bring global warming into people’s everyday lives.  Like politics, make it local, personal, moral and a pocket book issue.  Some ideas:  (from Frank Zaski)


Increase Understanding and Action

1.       Make the impact of global warming more local in communications  Provide people with data as to how global warming will affect their state, city and their families directly. In addition to flooded property, severe weather, increased health issues, disruption of crops, forests and animals, here are a few examples of disruption at the state level. Michigan for example:

·         Increased temperatures will accelerate air pollution and ozone causing more health issues.

·         The nature of our forests will change with northern species being replaced with grasslands and southern Michigan type trees. “Up-North” may look more like Ingham County in 50 years.

·         Certain crops will be able to grow further north, while others such as cherries and blueberries may disappear from the Lower Peninsula. 

·         Less snow and ice will greatly deter winter sports such as ice fishing, skiing, snowmobiling and reducing tourism and related jobs.  This is already happening.

·         Water levels may continue to drop and water temperatures will rise. Shipping and boating will be hurt and many Michigan waters may no longer support trout, muskie, whitefish, walleye and other cold water fish, again hurting tourism and jobs.  (I have detailed sources for all of these.)


The Union of Concerned Scientists has a lot of state specific impacts. http://www.ucsusa.org/greatlakes/glregionmic.html  As well as the National Wildlife Federation http://www.nwf.org/globalwarming/states.cfm the EPA http://yosemite.epa.gov/oar/globalwarming.nsf/UniqueKeyLookup/SHSU5BUTCC/$File/mi_impct.pdf  and the Michigan Environmental Council  http://www.mecprotects.org/pr3_22_06.htm


2.       Make the impact of global warming more individual in communications:

a.       It’s hard to relate to the US federal budget deficit of $9 trillion, but breaking it down to $30,000 per person makes it more understandable. 

b.       Per Carbonfund.org, the average American is responsible for 10 tons of direct emissions, including your home, car and air travel, but a whopping 24 tons of CO2 per capita when you include your impact from purchasing clothes, food, using roads and all the other emissions throughout the economy.


3.       Make the causes of and solutions for global warming more specific:

a.        Explain the connection between an individual’s actions, power consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Give examples of how our everyday activities impact global warming. 

b.       For example, the electricity needed to burn one 100 watt incandescent light bulb for six hours a day for a year requires burning about 180 pounds of coal which emits 300 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere. 

c.       Replacing that bulb with a 26 watt compact fluorescent light bulb will save about 130 pounds of coal, 220 pounds of CO2 and $16.00 a year in electric bills.


4.       Make the IMPACTS of global warming individual pocketbook issues:

a.       Flooding of property in some areas

b.       Increased health issues and costs

c.       Increased A/C costs

d.       Disruption of crops, forests, animals, tourism, etc.

e.       It may be much better for the economy if we fight global warming rather than allow it.


5.       Make the SOLUTIONS for global warming individual pocketbook issues: 

a.       In addition to addressing the above impacts, individuals can fight global warming and save money at the same time in their households. For example in Michigan:

b.       By cutting your car’s gasoline consumption by 20%, you can save $400 and 3,000 lbs. of CO2.  (Through driving less, using better driving techniques and vehicle maintenance. Buying a more fuel efficient car will save even more.)

c.       By cutting your heating use by 20%, you can save $300 and 3,000 lbs. of CO2. (Dial down the thermostat, insulate, calk, maintain furnace)

d.       By cutting your electricity use by 20%, you can save $100 and 2,000 lbs. of CO2. (Turn up the A/C, use compact fluorescent light bulbs, install Energy Star appliances)

e.       Altogether, you can save $800 on your energy bills and 8,000 lbs. of CO2 a year.


6.       Broaden the impact and solutions of global warming into social justice issues.  For example, by conserving energy and cutting pollution and greenhouse gasses, we:

a.       Have more money to spend on better things (education? health care? 401k?)

b.       Reduce fuel prices for all of us, especially the neediest (less demand = lower prices?)

c.       Prolong the time before fuels are much less affordable – especially for our poorest

d.       Allow more time for alternative fuels and renewable energy to be implemented

e.       Reduce balance of payments and reliance on imported fuels

f.         Reduce ozone, asthma and other health problems, particularly for the uninsured