Why We Can’t Ignore Climate Change

Climate change is already here. It’s affecting us. It could be irreversible.

You don’t have to believe me, but I hope you listen to the scientists who have been telling us we need to get our heads out of the sand now – including UH scientists who predicted Waikiki Beach may not exist in a few generations because of rising oceans. That story was reported last Wednesday by the Star-Advertiser.

We’ll be hearing a lot more about climate change as a body of scientists, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change appointed by the United Nations, prepares to release its comprehensive report in November.

Let me put it this way: The news won’t be good. And you can bet there will be political maneuvering and plenty of fights over national and global policies to deal with the disaster.

What, if anything, can we do about it? My answer to that is and always has been: whatever we can. It has to start in our homes, in our communities. Because these are the places where we actually can make a difference.

Someone asked me recently if buying a “green” car was worth the price. Well, I don’t know about anyone else, but the answer for me was, “Yes. It sure is.”

That said, I’ve learned over the years that “going green” isn’t as simple as it sounds.

Sure, I’ve almost succeeded in eliminating plastic grocery bags from our house. We still get a few, but I’d say we’ve eliminated 80 percent through the use of reusable bags.

We light our home with CFLs and LEDs. We buy energy-efficient appliances. We don’t have air conditioning, and I’m pretty good when it comes to using electricity only when and where we need it.

But according to the Union of Concerned Scientists – a very cool website I’ve discovered recently – I should be doing more. Everyone should be doing more to curb global warming emissions.

I love the site because it explains the science behind the things we need to know. Take a look at the site at ucsusa.org. Take the Science

Fact or Fiction quiz. And do read about the Science of Extreme Weather.

And while you’re there, check out the Top 10 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Emissions (And Save Money at the Same Time).

Here’s the tips from the website:

* Switch to a car with better fuel economy. Upgrading from 20 mpg to 40 mpg can save you 4,500 gallons over the car’s lifespan. That’s a savings of more than $18,000.

* Make your home more airtight. This applies to the many buildings in Hawaii that use air conditioning.

* Buy and use a programmable thermostat if you use air conditioning.

* Eat less meat, especially beef. This one’s hard for most of us. But according to the science, an average family of four that cuts its meat in-take in half will avoid roughly three tons of emissions annually.

* Use power strips to curb “phantom loads.”

* Upgrade your refrigerator and air conditioner, especially if they’re more than five years old.

* Monitor your electricity use.

* Change the light bulbs if you haven’t already. Most people I know have already done this.

* Wash clothes in cold water. This could save you nearly $100 a year.

* Buy less stuff. Reduce, reuse and recycle.

* Spread the word!

Twitter: @JadeMoon1