December 2, 2015 | Latest Photo
The Eiffel Tower is bathed in emerald green as leaders from 200 countries gather in Paris to try to work out a deal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. The goal of the 12-day talks: to develop a strategy to keep the earth from warming 2 degrees Celsius, which scientists say will trigger catastrophic changes for the planet.
Representatives from many countries say allowing the earth to get even that much hotter is too much. We are already seeing disastrous changes such as ocean warming and polar cap melting, they say, arguing that half the world’s coral reefs may die unless global warming is held to 1.5 degrees Celsius or less. The divisions among attendees are so deep experts predict any global climate deal will require many more meetings to hammer out.
In the meantime, consumers can do their part to reduce greenhouse gases.
Recycle. Recycling doesn’t just reduce the amount of waste in landfills, it reduces greenhouse gases by cutting down on energy needed to transport and dump our trash, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. And according to the University of Florida, if you recycle only half of your household waste, you can save 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide each year.
Adjust your thermostat. Remember when people made fun of President Carter for suggesting we turn down our home thermostats to 68 degrees F? Well, he was right. Turning down your thermostat 3 degrees F in the winter and up 3 degrees F in the summer will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 1,050 pounds per year, according to the National Park Service. You’ll also get a break on your heating and air conditioning bill.
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Use energy-saving light bulbs. According to the National Park Service, if every household in the United States replaced just one regular light bulb with an energy-saving bulb such as an LED, it would reduce greenhouse gases by more than 90 billion pounds over the life of the bulbs. That’s equivalent to taking 6.3 million cars off the road. So vote with your wallet: Buy energy-saving bulbs to replace your old incandescent bulbs. As a side bonus, you’ll save on your light and electric bills.
Use less hot water. If you took a warm shower today for about 5 minutes, you used the equivalent of one 60-watt bulb burning for 14 hours, according to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories. And if you use cold water instead of hot on even two loads of laundry a week, you’ll save about 550 pounds of greenhouse gases a year in the form of carbon dioxide emissions, according to the National Park Service.
Cut down on driving. Walk, ride a bike, carpool and use public transportation as much as possible. If you leave your car at home even two days a week, you can reduce your own greenhouse gas pollution by an average of two tons a year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
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