Recently, I commented on an article that appeared in StatenIslander.Org, entitled “As The Amazon Burns: Can Planting Trees Help? 10 Ways To Aid Our Ailing Earth.” In my comments, I proposed ten radical steps we can take to stop climate change in its tracks. These are my own ideas. I didn’t read them anywhere and just copy them.
So, maybe some of them may be new concepts to you. Some may be familiar. Whatever. I hope that we can all come up with creative ways to fight the needless waste of energy. I felt that the proposals given in the article I mentioned would do very little. So, here’s my RAD ICAL list of what can, and should, be done. With further ado, here is my list:
1. Give up your gas stove.
Gas stoves are old tech. There are plenty of ways to cook that are more fuel-efficient, including hot pots, pressure cookers, and rice cookers. These self-contained units heat food more efficiently, and therefore take less time and energy, even if gas is generally more efficient that an electric stove-top. And, stoves with pilot lights waste fuel, too.
There’s also solar ovens you can use in your own yard or on your own terrace if you’re in the city. There are also induction stoves that use magnetics to heat metal pots. In some areas, natural gas stoves are already outlawed, like in Florida. Induction is more efficient than gas, while electric stoves are usually not. Electric stoves use more electricity to produce heat than induction stoves.
2. Give up your combustion motorized car from 1920.
Did you know that quantum computers are here? Space travel to Mars? We are in the future, no doubt about it. All the while, this amazing new technology exists alongside dirty motors that work by burning gasoline, motors that are only minimally more efficient that the original motors created nearly 200 years ago.
It’s true that we have catalytic converters and EGR systems, so it’s better than it was in the ’50s. Still, it’s a dirty way to produce energy. So, do you buy an electric car? A hybrid? Take buses? Subways? Yes. Any and all of the above. It’s really what suits your needs. Just ditch the old car. Or, put it in the garage and only drive it on special occasions.
3. Solar, wind, ocean, geothermal electricity ONLY.
Look, I know you may hear all this talk about solar panels being inefficient, and that they’re never going to be as efficient as burning oil to generate power, but that’s nonsense. Why do big companies all over New Jersey have fields of solar panels over their parking lots? Are they climate zealots? No, they’re just smart! And solar is just ONE means of many clean energy producing technologies that are being refined with each passing year.
Oceans have tides and waves, which generate ridiculous amounts of energy, all due to the volume of water, and the tides created by the moon. Geothermal energy works because the Earth is hot deep inside. Wind? That’s obvious. Wind turbines are very old, and were once used to power mills, and a lot more. Dams and waterfalls were also used to power machinery long before oil.
4. Ground heating.
Did you know that you can keep your home warm in winter and cool in summer? It’s true. Coils of pipe are dug in a trench in your yard, not even very deeply. Anti-freeze is pumped through, and because ground temps stay fairly constant only a few meters down, the fluid is used as a heat exchange. With just a minimal use of electric air conditioning and natural gas heating on days that you want extra cooling or heat, your bills will show a substantial difference. And, the system is cheap to install, and even cheaper to run and maintain.
5. Tax water usage.
Some municipalities are already doing this. Water is not free, and requires energy to pump it, filter it, and make sure it’s safe to drink. Of course, one of the biggest wastes of water are old pipes that leak, often owned by the municipality itself! If you live in an area with a clean water table, you can drill a well and save even more. Either way, we have to come to realize that water delivery isn’t a free service and wastes a lot of resources.
6. Charge garbage pickup by the pound.
In some areas, this is already the practice. When we pay for garbage pickup, we are more mindful of keeping waste to a minimum. The garbage trucks use fuel. The trains that haul the garbage use fuel. The ships that sail on the seas to move the garbage use fuel. The bulldozers at the landfill use fuel. So, throw away less, generate less trash, and help save energy!
7. Eliminate packaging on products.
OK. Maybe not all packaging, but bulk products like grains, legumes, dried fruits, and more should be the rule, and not the exception. And, needless packaging should be outlawed. There’s no reason to have a giant container for a small product. It’s a waste of paper, metal, glue, and plastic. All those materials take water and fuel to manufacture, as well as dispose of. As a rule, less packaging is better.
8. Only sell dry goods. (add water–for milk detergent shampoo etc.)
We pay to ship water all over the Earth. Doesn’t it make more sense to conserve energy and ship powders instead, and mix everything at home? Of course, items like olive oil, or even motor oil, cannot be shipped as a dry good, as there’s no water in them. And, the packaging is necessary on both, so some items will be unaffected. But detergent can be a powder. Shampoo can be a condensed oil, same for conditioner.
When you stop to think of how much of what we ship is really just water weight, it’s mind boggling. Did you know that ships on the high seas are major polluters of the Earth’s air, creating more greenhouse gas emissions than an entire (small) country! Just ONE ship pollutes as much as 50 MILLION cars!
9. Square containers, NOT round.
Square containers allow more items to fit in a box, snugly packed in next to one another. Weird, unique packaging may look cool, but it wastes space on trucks, trains cars, and container ships. This may seem silly, but think about how much more efficient a use of space there would be on trucks if shampoo bottles were square or rectangular, instead of curved. Every little bit of energy saved is important. (See above about container ships)
10. Sail, don’t fly!
Airplane use incredible amounts of fuel. So, if you can take a trip by sea, go for it. One day, planes may be more efficient. Especially if there’s consumer pressure to change. Airlines would love to buy planes that use less fuel. They’re not in the business of spending, they’re in the business of profit. Of course, we can still have air travel, but consider taking a train, bus,or boat next time you travel.
**BONUS ITEM NOT IN MY ORIGINAL COMMENTS:
11. Shift shipping goods from trucks to rails.
Did you know that at one time, rails criss-crossed the US? Right over the bridge from Staten Island, Elizabeth has ribbons of rails that are now disused. The heyday of rails was over 100 years ago. Once the interstate highway system was in place, by the 1960s, rail traffic had dwindled. BUT…freight trains are far more efficient than trucks. FOUR TIMES. That’s due to a number of factors, including steel wheels having lower rolling resistance than rubber tiers, less proportional wind resistance, and larger, more efficient motors. Trucks can still be used for last-leg deliveries, but their routes will be shorter. And solar-powered drones can replace a lot of driving to stores for items.
That’s it. Those are my ten proposals. If consumers pressure manufacturers to become more efficient, they’ll listen. If these seem inconsequential, consider how much each of us uses, wastes, and consumes each week. Multiply that by fifty two weeks. Then, multiply that by everyone on your block.
Then keep multiplying. It quickly adds up to tons and tons of fuel, even more tons of waste, and a significant savings if we can manage to adapt and change. It may seem radical, but it really isn’t. It isn’t about politics, either. It’s about having a bright future on a planet that can accommodate even ten billion people, or even twenty billion. Our current practices are just not scalable, and therefore must change.
If you argue that a lot of jobs are going to disappear, consider all the new jobs that will emerge. Technology always changes, that much we can be sure of. A lot fewer people work collecting tolls, or making steam engines, for that matter. I’m sure there’s always been resistance, when entire classes of jobs are eliminated. Just think of how many jobs there are in IT. At one time, none of those jobs even existed. We may have a ton of new jobs involving space travel. Or solar panel manufacture. Or urban agriculture. Who knows.
With more rails comes more trains to manufacture, more rail lines to maintain, and more people to conduct, dispatch, and maintain the trains. If trucking jobs disappear, or container ship fleet receipts diminish, it’s just economic evolution. We shouldn’t care too much, because our education system will be gearing up the next generation of young people for the jobs that are going to be popular when they’re a bit older. It’s just life. And if we care about life, the planet, and keeping up with change, we have no choice.
Authored by RAD ICAL