Many environmental groups that emailed me were upset over President Trump’s decision not to honor the Paris climate accord.
They say it sends the wrong message to the other countries.
And they may have a point.
While it’s right for nations to try to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius, the agreement was voluntary. In other words, it’s a goal for the people of each nation.
You see what I’m getting at?
People are still responsible for most of the greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere. Of the total amount of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2015, transportation accounted for 27 percent and just keeping the lights on and the AC running (electricity use) accounted for 29 percent. Commercial and residential sectors were responsible for 12 percent. Industry and Agriculture together are contributing 30 percent.
So, there is still a lot that individuals can do to slow the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from warming the planet.
Let me count the ways.
1. In the transportation sector, buying or leasing an electric car and ditching your fossil-fuel car would cut down on GH emissions. The electricity to charge it? Yes, that’s energy. But in California, the amount of renewable energy powering the state is one-quarter of its the total, and growing. Sometimes, you can charge your electric car or plug-in electric hybrid at a public charging station creating power from solar energy, creating zero emissions through the entire supply chain.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District in Diamond Bar and the Southern California Edison Energy Education Center in Irwindale both have dozens of charging stations powered by solar energy open to the public.
Many owners of electric cars are installing electric chargers in their garages or elsewhere on their properties. Those with solar rooftop panels would be in the zero-emission category.
Some say electric cars are too expensive. Not true. Elon Musk’s Tesla models are high-end. But many other carmakers offer e-cars or plug-in hybrids below $30,000, especially when subtracting rebates from state and federal sources. Plus, the cost of maintaining and fueling an electric car is very low, so the lifetime cost of the vehicle is considerably lower.
My friend just leased an e-Golf, Volkswagen’s compact electric vehicle, for $120 a month. He has a family. So he uses his e-Golf as a second car, to get around the San Gabriel Valley or to downtown Los Angeles and back.
Think about it: Every time he drives that car (instead of his former gasoline-powered car) he’s reducing greenhouse gases. He’s doing what the Paris climate accord and the overwhelming majority of scientists who study climate and energy say we should do.
2. Save energy by simply turning off lights in unoccupied rooms of your house. Raise the temperature setting on your home AC thermostat to 77 or 78 degrees F. Or turn the AC to “off” and open the windows after 4 p.m. for that refreshing cool breeze that makes Southern California the most livable place.
3. Eat less beef. Cattle release methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
4. There are more public transportation choices these days. Why not take the train once a week or once a month? Do you have a Metro or Foothill Transit TAP card? If not, go get one at the nearest light-rail station. Give light-rail a weekend test drive.
5. There are two-wheel transportation solutions. That’s right. Bicycling is a good substitute for short car trips. It’s fun, great exercise, cheap and you can’t beat the big fat ‘0’ you get on your emissions report card. (0’s are good.)
Can we all say ‘oui oui’ to our own, personal Paris Climate Change accord? Très bien, merci beaucoup. Or better yet, only “we, the people” can save our planet.
Steve Scauzillo covers transportation and the environment for the Southern California News Group. He’s a recipient of the Aldo Leopold Award for Distinguished Editorial Writing from The Wilderness Society. Follow him on Twitter @stevscaz or email him at email@example.com.