13 May, 2007

The Heat is On

I saw the trailer of "an inconvenient truth" a few weeks ago and it has been nagging me. I will watch it as soon as I can get the time... In the meantime, there are a few questions which I wanted to put to paper .

1. How bad is Global warming? Is it really happening or is it periodic/episodic?
2. Can normal people like you and me make a difference?

I guess that short answers to the questions above would be:
1. Very. Yes it is happening. Does not matter if there is something periodic. We are definitely hastening it.
2. YES.

I think saving power, water, gas, fuel, food all add up in a big way. I wish I had numbers to show this, but this is the example which I can think up of -

Imagine the water that flows from the tap while you brush.

It has been sucked out of the ground, filtered, treated, pumped into the mains and then onto the supply and then to the overhead tank to the tap. And I let it flow. It then heads back through sewage, pumped again to be filtered and treated on its way to the river/sea.
Each of these verbs - sucked, filtered, treated, pumped has a carbon footprint because of energy needed to do them. The energy required per litre of water might be quite small in absolute terms, and CO2 produced might sound even smaller.
However, multiply that number by 3 times day, a lifetime of 25000 days and 3bn people, who live in urban areas and the factor is not ignorable any more.

The above example is something which people fail to realise. Given the number of people and the innumerable conveniences of modern living, there is a lot of energy being used up. By being careful and smart and just a little more responsible, it all adds up.

1. Saving water (look at above) by using the sun to dry clothes, using the dishwasher only when it is completely full (or better, cleaning them in the sink). My score - 4/10.
2. Saving electricity by not keeping gadgets on standby, tubelights or LEDs instead of bulbs, climb stairs instead of a lift, motion sensitive lighting in offices. My score - 2/10
3. Eliminate waste and recycle (this is something I do not do at all and need to work at). My score 0/10.

(By the way, whats with keeping shops and offices lighted long after business hours. Have a look at here and here. This is something we as consumers should make businesses realise - that a dark carbon neutral store would shine out more. always. I am proud to work for a firm which encourages recycling at the workplace and the lights are switched off at night, I would be proud to shop at a shop which does the same.
In Delhi, long long ago, they started charging for shopping bags at the cooperative stores. That made people reuse polythene bags. The trick was to price the bags high enough for it to matter to people.)

Update - Read another post about the same, hits closer to home- about developing countries and climate change here

Unrelated comment - Life continues to be more like some light with a tunnel fast approaching!

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