Climate change affects everyone on the planet, from coastal communities threatened by sea level rise to inland communities dealing with drought and other extreme weather events, and everyone in between. The negative effects of climate change impact other life on Earth as well, including marine life, by increasing the pH and temperature of the ocean, changing currents, and altering habitats as sea level rises. This has led to coral bleaching, migration towards the poles, drowning of valuable wetlands, and more. Check out a highly informative infographic, from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, on how climate change affects coral reefs.
The overwhelming reliance we, as humans, have on fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) has been a major contributor to climate change. At the global level, electricity and heat generation is the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for 25% of these emissions. To effectively reduce your contributions towards climate change, use (and share!) the following tips.
Also, try these fun personal energy calculators to see where you stand and how to improve!
Eliminate Vampire Power
The term “vampire power” (also known, less intriguingly, as “standby power”) refers to the energy sucked up by a plugged-in device or appliance when not in use. An estimated 10% of U.S. household electricity bills is wasted on standby power. Some of the most common sources of vampire power are TVs, game consoles, computers, cable boxes, microwave ovens, printers, stereos, chargers (for your phone, laptop, camera, etc), and furnace fans. For more information on these, including what a furnace fan is and what the alternatives are, see this page.
To eliminate vampire power, unplug devices and appliances when not in use. One simple method is to plug everything into power strips with on/off switches and turn the switches off whenever possible.
A Bright Idea
Next time you buy lightbulbs, try LEDs and CFLs instead of incandescent bulbs. Though an LED or CFL bulb itself may be more of an up-front investment than an incandescent, you will save money in the long run because LED and CFL bulbs use less energy and last much longer.
Check out this Brazilian mechanic’s innovative bottle lamp, which brings people electricity-free light in their homes while keeping out the daytime heat and reusing plastic bottles! This invention has spread to over a dozen countries, including the Philippines, where the Liter of Light Foundation added a solar panel to make the lamp functional even at night (video here).
Be aware of the energy efficiency of your future product purchases, including refrigerators, washers and dryers, air conditioners, TVs, and more. When purchasing new appliances, look for the EnergyStar label or, in the European Union, the EU Energy Label.
Another way to use your purchasing power to help the environment is to switch to and advocate for renewable energy options, like solar power, wind power, and hydroelectricity! Learn more about these options here.
Expand Beyond Electricity
Finally, learn about which other economic sectors are major greenhouse gas contributors. Agriculture and transportation are two main ones, so check out our Seas the Day: July post about more sustainable eating and our Seas the Day: March post about green transportation options! Quick tip: eating less meat, especially red meat, is key to reducing your carbon footprint.
Seas the Day! Please use this information as you wish to spread the ocean conservation message. Each month, we feature a new conservation theme with ways to help so come back regularly for more ocean-helping ideas and tips!
Brisbane City Council via Flickr
Timothy Smith via Flickr