This Earth Day, Celebrate-then Dig In for More Work to Protect Mother Earth
Each year Earth Day allows us to reflect on the challenges facing Mother Earth, what've accomplished in the past year, and the work to be done in the year to come. It's become clear that the greatest challenge facing us this Earth Day is global warming. We've all seen the news reports about the melting glaciers, suffering polar bears, and the other effects of global warming that we're starting to experience right now.
It's easy to feel overwhelmed when confronted with the very serious consequences awaiting us and future generations outlined in numerous reports, most notably the one from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Fortunately, we have been blessed recently with good news on protecting the San Francisco Peaks from snowmaking with wastewater and shutting down one of the biggest local global warmers-the Mohave Generating Station.
This Earth Day, I would like to thank everyone who wrote letters, marched in rallies, and helped save the Peaks and stop Peabody from pumping the Navajo Aquifer through the Black Mesa Slurry Line. These victories are an example that we can work in unity to protect Mother Earth. While these campaigns were successful, Global warming will require everyone to take a stand. We have the technology to tackle global warming; now it's merely a matter of everyone stepping up and doing their part.
This Earth Day you can be part of the "2 Percent Solution." It may sound too good to be true, but we can prevent the most catastrophic effects of global warming if we reduce our carbon emissions by two percent each year, from now through 2050. As they say, "it takes two to tango." It will also take two to solve global warming, not only two percent a year, but people working together: you and your neighbor, you and your tribal leader, the government, local businesses, environmentalists and unions, and everyone that lives on Mother Earth.
Solving global warming will certainly require action at the federal level; however, there are many ways you can be part of the 2 Percent Solution at home and in your community. More and more cities and states across the country are also moving quickly to be part of the solution. Several Western states, including California and a large group of Northeastern states have all agreed to implement mandatory reductions in carbon emissions. At the local level, more than 400 other mayors are taking the lead in fighting global warming by signing the U.S. Mayor's Climate Protection Agreement-a pledge to reduce carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
These mayors have numerous options at their disposal to reduce the Southwest's carbon emissions, while saving taxpayers money and helping to end our dangerous oil addiction. They are greening their city fleets with hybrids and other highly-efficient vehicles-cutting both carbon emissions and fuel bills. They are also working hard to make sure green power from sources like wind and solar is available and that government buildings are designed (or upgraded) to use energy as efficiently as possible. Activists across the country are joining the Sierra Club's "Cool Cities Campaign" to urge their mayors to adopt these and other smart energy solutions.
Being part of the 2 Percent Solution starts right at home. It may sound like a cliché to some, but simply replacing your old-fashioned incandescent bulbs with modern energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs can make a big difference. Not only do they last much longer, but their highly-efficient design means you'll spend less on energy every month. If every family America changed just five of their light bulbs, it would be like taking eight million cars off the road.
Making sure you buy the most energy-efficient appliances-everything from TVs to dishwashers to air conditioners will also shrink your carbon footprint right along with your energy bills.
The savings don't end there-driving a hybrid or highly efficient vehicle will dramatically reduce your emissions, save you money at the pump and help reduce our dangerous dependence on oil.
And while upgrading your cars, appliances, and things like the windows in your house are certainly not as easy as changing a light bulb, federal, state, and local governments offer thousands in tax incentives to help offset the initial cost of many such investments.
Finally, you can help fight global warming at home by making sure the power you do use comes from clean, renewable sources like wind and solar. Most utilities offer green power alternatives. By purchasing green power, you'll be reducing your carbon footprint and helping to jumpstart the development of renewable energy resources. Last but not least, turn off your lights and conserve energy when you can.
Starting this Earth Day enlist your friends, family and neighbors to be part of the 2 Percent Solution. By working together we can all meet the challenge of global warming and make sure that our children will have something to celebrate on Earth Day 2050.
Visit zoomer.sierraclub.org to find out about the tax incentives and green power options available here in the Southwest.
Andy Bessler is the Tribal Partnerships representative for the Sierra Club.