Thursday, July 3, 2014

3 Small Personal Changes, Immediate Positive Impact on EPA's 30% Carbon Pollution Reduction by 2030 Proposal

photo credit:
Whether talking about food, water, electricity, consumer goods, or anything else, it is never a bad idea to understand where things come from, why they cost what they do, their availability, their unintended consequences, and their future impacts.  Americans, for the most part, have been blessed with exceptional access to these and other "commodities", even sometimes taking them for granted or becoming disgruntled if temporarily unavailable. Gratefully, public awareness of these concepts of cause-and-effect, need-or-want, and "what-if?" and the related reasons for making these choices seems to be on the rise.

Examples (and possible motivators):

- concerted efforts to buy locally-grown food (mistreatment of animals, growth hormones, local economy, reduced transportation),
- choosing American-made over price (quality differences, anti-overseas sweatshops, support US manufacturing),
- recycling (awareness of waste, pollution, consumption),
- increased self-reliance, self-responsibility (numerous reasons!)

These choices and changes usually take thought and effort.  Once I decided to stop supporting the use of plastic grocery bags, aka "New Jersey tumbleweeds" (petroleum-product, landfill burden, animal hazard), 
until it became habit I can't tell you how many times I'd get just inside the grocery store before realizing I had to go back to my car for my reusable bags.  If each of us could change a few tiny things like this ... even just three in the next month, we'd cumulatively make great changes.  And each future change becomes easier.  We make these changes for our own personal beliefs or reasons, but the results can have global ramifications.

It would be great if our utility companies would support us all with the next small change.  If they would give each household a P3 Kill-A-Watt-EZ Energy Usage Meter (or offer at reduced rate), American families could have fun with increasing their knowledge of energy in general and consumption/conservation in particular.  Such a neat little inexpensive device with so much potential impact - see what it takes to make a pot of coffee, how big an inverter is needed to run your microwave, how much stored power your fridge would require during power outage, or how you could do laundry purely by solar.

Let's apply the source/cost awareness above to energy and the EPA's proposed ruling last month seeking a 30% reduction in carbon-dioxide emissions by 2030 from existing power plants based on emission levels from 2005.  Yes, 30% is a large number, possibly inflated to leave room for compromise, but no matter where you stand on global warming, you most likely agree that pollution in any form and consumption of finite resources is not a good thing for mankind.  If we could each cut our electricity consumption by 5-10% through decreased consumption, increased efficiency, usage awareness, or conservation, we would be handing these power plants a 5-10% head-start or more on this requirement.

One place to learn about other easy changes you can make to make a difference is at's energysaver website.  Another way, and with immediate impact, is to consider 
supplemental renewables like portable solar generators.  PSGs come in various sizes, but any comparable to SUNRNR specifications can sustainably provide at least 5% of an average American home's energy usage (given some sun and/or wind:)  They have the added benefit of being available for power outages or for use at non-grid locations.  PSG uses are similar to those of gas generators.  Both provide power independent of the grid, which is beneficial to this power plant proposal, but one still pollutes, robbing Peter to pay Paul using lumps of coal.  And no one in their right mind would want to run a gas generator continuously and sustainably like they could a PSG, to do their part toward requiring less electricity from power plants.