I’ve read many articles on how our planet is warming and how climate extremes are happening now and will increase, such as; more flooding, drought, heat waves and intense storms. If we don’t all cut back on fossil fuels, our climate will heat up and we will not be able to reverse it. Scary stuff! In doing my part, I’ve cut back on my driving, increased my bike and bus riding, lowered the house winter temperature, buy more local, dry my clothes outside in summer and got rid of my power mower, but I wonder if this enough.
Where do I stand on my personal Kyoto protocol? The Kyoto protocols are an international treaty that lays out the amount of carbon emissions countries are allowed to emit, so that world climates remain stable. For the US this amount is 7% below our 1990 carbon emissions and we need to meet this by 2008-2012, the next target is 30% by 2024 and 80% by 2050. That is a daunting task! Global fossil fuel emissions have gone up 2.5% per year over the last 15 years. The treaty is voluntary and not all countries have signed, under Bush the US did not sign, but many states and cities in the US did. Under Mayor Nickels, Seattle was the first city to sign and with this the city pushed for more mass transit, energy conservation, more green buildings and green energy, more walkable neighborhoods and many other initiatives.
The City of Seattle met their Kyoto goals in 2008 for step 1, but as the population grows it will be a challenge to keep the number down. The top three carbon emitters in the US are; transportation at 28%, electricity generation at 33% and industry at 20%. For the City of Seattle the numbers are transportation the most at 62%, of that, cars represents 20%, air travel is 20% and rail and marine is 40%. The second top emitter is buildings at 21% and industry at 17%. This is why the city is pushing mass transit, green energy and energy conservation and why the Roosevelt Neighborhood is supporting a walkable neighborhood, light rail, good bus access, bikeable streets, denser living and green buildings. Every article I have read always says that energy conservation is the biggest bang for our buck and that technology can’t get us out of this and there is no one solution.
I figured out my personnel Kyoto protocol or any persons in the US to be 20 tons per year, for step one. This sounds like a lot, so let’s run some personal carbon footprint calculators to see what I emit now. There are many online, just Bing personal carbon footprint calculator. I am amazed on how questionable many of them are. The best one I found is called carbon footprint calculator. I got 9 tons per year, so I am below the Kyoto number for step 1 and that included one plane flight for the year.
Find out your personal carbon footprint and then you will know how much you emit and what actions of yours use the most carbon and then you can start cutting back. There are so many ways we can all cut back and do our part.
Good reading on climate issue severity by Jim Hansen of NASA: The Case for Young People and Nature and The White House and Tar Sands