Journal Entry

22 Apr 2006 ... Happy Earth Day

Let's talk global warming! The focus of this year's Earth Day is climate change... The Earth Day Network thinks that climate change has been down-played for too long. So, we are getting the word out: Global warming is here and it is already effecting each and every one of us!

You know all those tips for going green? Do them! Now! And tell others to do them, too! Change the world by changing your life!

Planet Under Pressure, BBC News

Yep, global warming is real. In the last 100 years, the global temperature has risen 0.6°C. Doesn't seem like much, does it. However, the temperature has risen 4°F in most of the US, and in the Arctic, the temp is up by 7°F.

And the oceans are rising as that ice is melting... during the 20th century, the sea rose by 10 to 20 centimeters. And the current rate of rise is 2 millimeters a year. It starts adding up, people.

Earth Day Network

This is the place where you can do the Ecological Footprint Quiz. I'm using 12 acres (2.6 Earths), which is half of the US average of 24 acres. How many acres is your life style using?

"Human activities are now adding about 7 billion metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere every year." The number one polluter is power plants, number two is autos. And trailing behind, but still a significant contributor of greenhouse gases, is meat production.

Just going vegetarian will decrease your CO2 emissions by 1.5 tons every year. And going vegan will help even more! To compare, the average American drives about 8,322 miles every year which emits 1.9 to 4.7 tons of CO2, depending on your gas mileage!

Problem is, meat production makes more than just CO2. All those billions of animals that get killed every year, make 130 times the waste that humans do... and factory farms do not use sewage plants! All those billions of animals are also producing methane and nitrous oxide, also greenhouse gases. Except methane and nitrous oxide are more potent than CO2: one pound of methane has the same effect as 50 pounds of CO2!

We can all do things to reduce our footprint and our CO2 emissions! These things are not difficult, just a small change, just stop and think, and the ball will be rolling in the right direction!

 Go Vegan! This is always at the top of my list because not only will you be saving the earth, you will also be saving the animals. It's also really easy to do. How about starting with a few plant-based meals. You can adapt meals with vegetarian meat substitutes, or go all out with vegan recipes.

If you think you can't live without a certain animal product, like cheese or ice cream or milk chocolate... you can still make your diet "strict vegetarian, except ice cream". It puts you on the path of good. And, that's how I did it, too! I went vegetarian, but it took me ten years to figure out that dairy cows suffer MORE than beef cattle. When I went vegan, I continued to eat milk chocolate.

Like I said, it's a path. You can start with baby steps with one vegan meal, one less stop at McDonalds, soy cream instead of ice cream!

 Buy local! On average, food in the US travels between 2,500 and 4,000 km before it gets to your home! Wow. That's extra fuel, extra packaging, extra refrigeration, all adding up to extra CO2 emissions. By visiting a farmer's market for your fruits and veges you can make a huge dent!

It is actually more important to buy local, than to buy organic. Why? Big non-ethical companies are buying up all the small, organic/natural companies. And the organic standards are being degraded.

The label may say "organic" but it probably doesn't mean what you think it means! When you buy local, at a farmers market, you can actually talk to the farmer or one of the workers. You can find out exactly how your food is grown.

 Think about your energy consumption. Are there any places that you can walk to instead of drive? For every gallon of gas you use, you are emitting 19 pounds of CO2.

How about the electricity in your home? Turn off your computer at night (even letting it sit in Stand-by mode uses up power). Many electronic devices in our homes use electricity even when not being used... Think about getting a power strip to cut the power to certain devices that don't need clocks. Your VCR needs the time, but how many clocks do you need in the kitchen? You could put the microwave and the coffee maker on a power strip to flip off when not in use!

Air dry your clothes instead of using the clothes dryer... your clothes will last longer and you won't be paying for all that heat. Change your light bulbs to the fluorescent kind. Use less heating or air conditioning. Your refrigerator takes up 10 to 15% of your electric bill! So take care of it by vacuuming the coils in the back every once in a while, and replace the rubber seals around the doors if they are not doing their job.

Avoid plastics where you can! If you have the choice, get aluminum or glass packaging instead. The recycling of plastic uses up tons of energy, and many plastics don't or can't get recycled at all! Not Good! Not to mention the toxins that are coming out of that plastic.

 Think about what you throw away. Did you know that food packaging and food scraps take up 1/3 of the space in landfills?! Gack! Compost, buy in bulk, and buy less packaging (farmers market, right?).

And how about the other things you buy? Some toys we get last about five minutes before they get tossed. Remember, just because an item is cheap in terms of dollars and cents, does not mean it's cheap in terms of the environment... Plastic causes pollution at every step of it's production, and your toys are transported from elsewhere so add in the environmental costs of the trip from China, too. Just say NO! Don't be a "consumer"... be a "citizen"!

Here's where I got some of my information...

Factory Farming, Environmental Impact
This site is by Farm Sanctuary, lots of good news articles are linked at this page. Be sure to check out the rest of the site as well.

Planet Under Pressure, BBC News
(Mentioned above) Series of articles about environmental damage. Covering: Biodiversity, Water, Energy, Food, Pollution and Climate Change.

Earth Day Network
(Also mentioned above) Good starting point!

Satya Magazine
Their April 2006 issue was about food. This is one of my favorite Mags!

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