If you’re like me, you drive a fuel-efficient car, wash your clothes in cool water and live reluctantly with those curly-cue compact fluorescent light bulbs (I’ll get to light-bulb socialism in a minute) — but you wonder all along how much your puny contributions truly help save the planet from a carbon-driven fever.
Now comes a study speaking to that question.
By following 17 well-known energy saving tips, U.S. households could collectively curb the nation’s annual carbon emissions by 7.4 percent 10 years from now, says the study by researchers at Michigan State and Vanderbilt universities and the University of Michigan. Their findings appear this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The annual savings, 123 million metric tons of carbon, would top the total national emission of France, the researchers say. It would exceed all emissions from three big industries: petroleum refining, iron/steel and aluminum.
Call it the “behavioral wedge” in the struggle to reduce carbon emissions. The study’s authors claim that it would be a far faster and cheaper strategy than other changes government officials are contemplating.
Now comes my journalistic skepticism.
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., won applause in many conservative circles for introducing legislation this year to restore our light-bulb freedom and end the “voodoo, nonsense, hokum . . . hoax,” claims about human causes of global warming. I still see a lot of gas hogs on the streets. And I don’t see clothes lines coming back in any big way in my neighborhood.
How are you going to pull enough Americans together to pull off this savings?
The researchers say they looked into the “plasticity” of our behavior on carbon-curbing measures and factored in reluctance from naysayers.
You can judge for yourself how likely we are to do this together. Here are the 17 household energy savers they analyzed:
- Efficient heating, ventilating and air conditioning equipment
- Low-flow showerheads
- Efficient water heater
- Efficient appliances
- Low rolling resistance tires
- Fuel-efficient vehicle
- Change air filters on furnace and other equipment
- Tune up AC
- Routine auto maintenance
- Lower laundry temperature
- Lower water heater temperature
- Adjust standby electricity
- Set back thermostat
- Line dry clothes
- Driving behavior (honor speed limits)
- Carpooling and trip changing
The speed-limit thing alone makes me skeptical. With all due respect to the State Patrol, very few drivers seem to honor the limits in Minnesota.
What do you think?