What's the Catch?
2010.01.18 (last update)
What's the Catch?
This began as my New Year's resolution for 2010, out of my
frustration with the lack of progress at COP15 in Copenhagen.
I don't want to sell you anything.
I don't want you to donate money (this is on my dime).
I don't want you to join an organization.
I don't want you to write to politicians.
I don't want you to carry signs in protest marches.
I don't want you to think the issue is too big for you to solve alone,
or that you are helpless. You are not alone in this, and I will provide
resources to help you with this initiative.
I do want you to think and act to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions,
so I can leave a habitable planet for my children, my grandchildren,
and those that follow. I hope you do, too. If you do, I want to help
you with that endeavour. If you really get it, I would also like you
to mention this to your family and friends, and see if they want to act
I have been pleased to see the response to my idea so far. I hope
something significant comes from it.
That's the deal. Where it goes from here is up to you!
What if I'm wrong? (suppose Climate Change is actually a Hoax)
It could be that the overwhelming majority of the world's climate scientists are wrong.
That seems highly unlikely, and there seems to be more evidence almost
daily to prove them right. But where's the down side for this campaign?
Suppose I, and many, many others manage to reduce our fossil fuel
consumption by 10% in 2010, and the whole climate change thing actually
is some kind of colossal hoax. What would be the result? Our air will be cleaner.
Our water will be cleaner.
Our soils will be less polluted.
We will have imported less coal and oil, strengthening our economy.
I will have saved some money on my energy expenses.
I will have met some new and interesting
people, and probably picked up or enhanced some skills, and have learned a few
things along the way.
However, what if the majority of climate scientists are right,
and you do nothing? How will you explain your inaction to your children and grandchildren?
This won't solve the problem of climate change.
I know. I'm just one person, and not one in a position of power.
However, I can take responsibility for my contribution to the problem
of climate change. I can make some changes that will reduce my greenhouse
gas emissions, with little or no financial cost. I don't have the
entire solution, and certainly won't within 2010. However, I can be part
of the solution. Solving the problem starts with changing direction
from the wrong path (continually increasing emissions) to the right
path (reducing emissions). I don't propose to give up my gains in
2010 once we reach 2011, but rather to continue to benefit from them
into the future, and likely continue to look for further gains.
If other people do the same, then with time, that will help to solve the problem.
Why focus on fossil fuels?
In terms of the increase in the greenhouse gas emissions in our
atmosphere, the ones which are changing the fastest and creating the
biggest negative impact are carbon dioxide, nitrogen-oxides and methane. The major source of
production of these on the planet today is our burning of
non-renewable carbon-based fuels, notably coal, oil and refined oil products, and natural gas.
As consumers in the industrial world, it is our driving, flying,
heating and cooling of our homes, and our high-consumption lifestyle
on the global scale that causes most of this. While factories in Asia
are increasing their emissions, the fact is
they are producing goods primarily for our consumption. If we reduce
that consumption, we will also reduce their emissions. I don't want
to reduce my quality of life (or yours), but I do want to reduce the impact of
it so I can continue to enjoy it, and so my children and grandchildren can, too. We have other, better options available now.
Why not let the government fix global warming?
Because they have had over 30 years to do something, and have not.
Based on their performance at the annual COP meetings,
they have no desire or intention of doing so.
Wouldn't a little global warming be welcome?
Global Warming is actually a bit of a misnomer for what we can expect
from continuing down the path of increasing our greenhouse gas emissions.
"Global Climate Destabilizaton with Coastal Flooding" is possibly a better
terminology, but it doesn't flow off the newsreader's tongue quite as
smoothly as the shorter, and somehow more comforting, "Global Warming".
In fact, the models forecast the temperatures will become more volatile,
and storm systems will become more frequent, more powerful, and do more damage.
That could mean periods of freezing weather in areas that currently
don't see them, bringing things like freezing temperatures and snow to
places like the U.S. citrus belt or southern England and Europe in the
winter, and increasingly hot, dry weather to regions in the summer.
I know, it seems so unlikely given the stable climate in which our
current human civilizations have evolved and adapted. However, this is
exactly what has happened in the past few months and years. Assuming
that survival of our species is a desirable thing, then climate
stability is something we want to retain, and increasing our greenhouse
gas emissions is the wrong why to go about it.
What will 10n10 do for you?
The primary focus of 10n10.ca is to provide you with information
you can use to help reduce your fossil fuel consumption, hopefully by
10% or more in a single year (2010). The objective is to make this
as easy as possible for you, and to do it without spending much money
(perhaps none). I expect you will save some money (reduced energy
expenses) as a result. Over the course of the year, I will also try
to provide you with some motivation, some inspiration and help in
some other ways I have not yet worked out in detail.
At some point, we will implement some form of greenhouse gas
emissions tax ('carbon tax'), or possibly even some form of direct
rationing. That would not be necessary if we all agreed to play nicely,
but historically that is not the case when it comes to shared resources.
(Search for 'tragedy of the commons' to learn more about that.) This
initiative is about playing nicely (which can work to our benefit
according to games theory, if we're smart enough to figure it out).
However, it if doesn't work out, starting down this road now will
allow you to be better positioned when the taxes or rationing or
both are implemented. The less dependent you are on fossil fuels,
directly and indirectly, at that point, the better off you will be
personally. If you invest for your future, or buy insurance, this
sort of precautionary, but painless, approach should make sense to you.