October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day: Climate Change

Interrupting our regularly scheduled Homeschool Days post to participate in Blog Action Day.

"Because of the complexity of the problem, environmental skepticism was once tenable. No longer. It is time to flip from skepticism to activism."
-- Michael Shermer

A few years ago, I could have easily been called a climate change skeptic. It wasn't that I was blind to the ice caps melting or the acidification of the oceans. I just wondered if humans really had anything to do with it. I've since learned enough to feel like we are certainly playing some role in global warming, but somewhere along the way I also decided it didn't matter. The changes we need to make are better for the planet and for the future.

Yesterday, I used a carbon calculator to determine our footprint.

Your estimated greenhouse gas emissions are 80 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent per year, which is below the U.S. national average.

The average five person household in America emits 130 tons, which makes us look pretty good. But compared to the average family of five in the world (28 tons), we are clearly not doing enough.

We plan to take a few more steps in the right direction by recycling more items, hanging a clothes line, and planting a garden. Our largest contribution to carbon emissions is through driving. Our van is as fuel efficient as we can make it, but walking or biking isn't an option where we live. There are no sidewalks or bike lanes, and we live on a busy highway. However, B was able to negotiate a new work schedule that has him in the office one less day per week, and three fewer when he is on-call. That saves 86 miles per day and about 6000 less per year!

What are you doing? Can you do more?

I love this video. It's got great music, simple but powerful graphics, and it was done by a kid.


  1. Interesting calculator (only for the U.S., though). Here in Korea, recycling is mandatory.

    I'm with you on feeling that climate change is occurring and that we may or may not have an impact, but that we should be more thoughtful about any impact we might have on our planet.

  2. You're right, it's not a matter of belief anymore. The debate is over, it's time for action now.

    Here’s my post for Blog Action Day:


    Everyone else go make one too!

  3. I tried it with Washington (for a family of 4) which I think compares to Belgium and got a surprising result considering that I exaggerated some questions negatively.
    Your estimated greenhouse gas emissions are 41 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent per year, which is below the U.S. national average.

    The biggest positive for us is probably the car, a car with less than 35 mpg is a very rare thing, I guess with about $7/gallon it's no surprise :)

  4. Great post. The enormity of the problem makes us think that global warming is beyond our control, but every little step helps.

  5. Raising a Happy Child- thanks :)

    Hugo- totally jealous of your fuel efficient car! But OMFSM on the gas. Sheesh.

    Canada Guy-thanks for the link, checking it out now!

    Wendy-our current garbage company doesn't even do recycling. It's pathetic. I need to set up some bins in our kitchen and find the nearest center.

  6. "Your estimated greenhouse gas emissions are 38 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent per year, which is below the U.S. national average."

    I can't believe that thing is accurate..I feel like I must have a larger carbon footprint than it shows!

    S, I think we have the same garbage company. ;o(

    There's a center on Satellite, between Steve Reynolds and Beaver Ruin...just south/west of the old Harry's.

  7. You probably don't have to drive a gas guzzling van all around town just to get groceries or attend playdates like we do :) Plus we haven't tried going vegan. Thanks for the recycling center location!