Are you doing anything in your daily life to fight global warming?

Author Tim Flannery, a guest today on “Midmorning,” argues that the fate of the planet depends on our developing a sense of responsibility about climate change. Are you doing anything in your daily life to fight global warming?

Comments texted to MPR:

I fight global warming by eating vegetarian dinners three times per week, walking or biking for short errands, and we’re installing solar panels on our house this spring. -Alex, Red Wing, MN

I do my part to reduce emissions by taking the bus. I say, come on people, its so easy and reduces my stress level because I don’t have to worry about rush hour. -Bryan, Minneapolis, MN

I do all the recycling for my three jobs. I switched to a better gas mileage car, we turn our heat off during the day, and i try to make sure we all turn the lights off and shorten our showers! Every little bit helps! -Julie, Howard Lake, MN

You forgot the word “relevant”. People’s actions are meaningless unless they are owners of airplane fleets. -Mookie, St. Paul, MN

My husband and I recycle, purchase mostly organic, locally-grown food items and try to lower our energy consumption by using LEDs throughout our home. We also unplug electronics before we leave for work in the morning. -Russ and Tina, White Bear Lake, MN

I’m lobbying members of Congress and riding the bus to work more often. -Mike, St. Paul, MN

I’m staying poor…buying necessities, used clothing, used furniture, entertainment. I’m walking, biking. -anonymous

Share your reply in the comments: Are you doing anything in your daily life to fight global warming?

  • Gary F

    Besides being frugal, no. I don’t give “global warming” religious status as some do. I don’t have the liberal guilt that comes along with giving climate change religious status.

  • Kathy

    Our electric use is down 35% from 3 years ago resulting from a series of small things like changing to CFL bulbs (and turning them off when they are not being used), putting vampire power users on power strips, hanging laundry outside on nice days instead of using the dryer and using curtains to maximize ambient solar heat. We are now looking into solar PV to further reduce our footprint.

  • Mike in St Paul

    Being “green” is not mutually exclusive with acting in one’s own economic self-interest, and many of the steps I’ve taken have multiple benefits: I have a fuel-efficient car, CFLs and LED light bulbs in my house, and bike to work when possible. These things are energy efficient, save money, and in the case of biking to work, are good for my body.

  • I ride 150 miles per week every week to work in addition to errands on my bicycle. We eat only slow, local food which greatly reduces our trash and recycling due to not having purchased packages. Our heat/colling is mainly done by adding or removing clothes, blankets, etc. We grow a large garden, and keep our electric use to a minimum by reducing our television, computer, etc. use.

    We need to remember that we owe the next generation the respect of giving them better than was given to us.

  • Ron L

    The answer is yes. Such actions as riding a bicycle to work, hanging laundry outside, purchasing efficient appliances, and turning down the heat thermostat. I believe these actions are good for my health, my wallet, and our environment.

  • The biggest thing we have done, is limit ourselves to only one child. We live as green as possible, fuel efficient cars, grow much of our own organic food, only have one or two compact fl. lights on at a time. But no matter how green you live, you still consume resources and contribute to global warming. Each additional person on the globe compromises the quality of life and chances of survival for future generations. Global overpopulation is the root of most of our environmental issues, from climate change to deforestation, to water shortages and fisheries collapsing. It is time the media and environmental groups stop their silence on this, and embrace overpopulation with the same zeal they address climate change, which is simply a symptom of too many people on the earth.

  • Jay M

    I attempt to abide by the basics – fuel efficient car, use of public transit, riding a bike, CFL bulbs, hanging laundry to dry, eating local, minimal heating/cooling, recycling and minimizing waste – that our society is instructed to do to “fight” global warming. However, my motivation for doing these things is no longer to fight global warming. Rather it’s become my personal movement towards minimizing my impact on the natural earth and my self. Our fight is not against global warming. Our fight is really against ourselves. I believe global warming is occurring. I believe humans are the primary cause of it. And I believe the only way we’re truly going to successfully stem global warming is to maintain a reduced human population. Instead we keep throwing technological innovation at everything, allowing us to further increase our species. So, my short and direct answer to your question is this: to fight global warming, I’ve thus far refrained from both reproducing and contributing to technological innovation.

  • Susan L.

    In our household the single biggest step my partner and I take to limit our global impact is to live a car free lifestyle by cycling instead.

    Other smaller things we do- buy bulk foods, reuse plastic containers or avoid them all together, conserve electricity & water, have part of our electric bill come from wind energy, etc.

  • Matty Lang

    My family lives car-free and chose to live in a location where we can easily meet our daily needs without needing to drive. We also are members of Hour Car for those rare times when a car is necessary. We live in a central location, well connected to transit and bikeways, with a lot of small businesses providing services we need within walking distance, including schools and hospitals.

    We also focus on conservation efforts in the home and buying our food from local sources as much as possible. As others have said our lifestyle is great for the climate and great for our pocket book and it has been easier than life was dealing with all of the headaches of car ownership.

  • Christine A

    My family of four only puts out a garbage can every two weeks. We recycle, as well as compost. We started a small garden this year, as well as installed a high efficiency furnace on a set thermostat-reducing our gas bill to $13/mo! We have energy efficient light bulbs in, and don’t use the lights until needed. It is a family process with the kids just as involved as the adults.

  • alan

    I’m not buying into this global warming. Al Gore stands to become the first carbon billionare (check out this NY Times story – http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/03/business/energy-environment/03gore.html).

    I am unemployed, refuse to spend money to replace my car, furnace or appliances. I cannot afford to buy those mercury carrying CFLs.

    The US governement is going to sell out the taxpayers, again, when they sign off on the Copenhagen agreement. They haven’t told the public what is really in that agreement.

    Al Gore and others refuse to admit the heating/cooling cycle also has been natural occuring over the geologic history of the planet.

    Many of the scientists he quotes in his talks have reviewed the data and are now either saying we need to look at this more or come out and refute him.

    The media needs to look at the geologic and historic record. They buy into this without really researching the science. They just parrot the biggest speaker.

    There may be fact in the arguement, but the way it is being sold is phony. And I refuse to buy into it.

  • Steve D

    My last two trips to the east and west coast have been made on Amtrak instead of on an airplane.

    Since February I have been riding one of Polk Counties rural commuter buses to work each day. This saves about 1200 miles each month in my commute. These buses are an untold story we started with about 6 to 8 riders a day in January but we are up to 18 riders a day on my route each day.

    I recycle, have replaced my lights with CFL’s, and I am working on insulating my 107 year old farm house. My wife and I are changing to one day a week without meat this reduces my carbon foot print by 20% over our change to eating locally produced food and food in season.

  • Steven

    I and my family have taken some actions, but anything we do individually is trivial, unless the world community agrees to act on the need for change. That won’t happen unless we quit idolizing the economy. When politicians advocate addressing global warming in ways that don’t “harm the economy,” they’re saying that the economy is more important than doing the right thing for all the people of the world. The same argument was made against the abolition of slavery– it would hurt the economy. Abolition was still the right thing to do.

    I actually think that “green” technology (especially conservation efforts) will actually be good for the economy, but as long as we’re more worried about the economy than the well-being of the earth and all the people who depend on it, we’ll keep heading for this cliff.

  • JO

    Science deniers like alan aside, one of the biggest things I do is to buy local, local, local!

    Food transportation is a huge and for most people an unknown problem. Sorry, I don’t remember the exact figures but I think that on average it takes 6 calories of fuel to transport 1 calorie of food! It is insane to buy an apple from New Zealand when there are quite a few orchards within 100 miles of the Twin Cities. It benefits the environment, the farmers and me by giving me better tasting, more nutritious food.

  • Jean Vincent

    No more than I would be doing to cut my personal costs. I am listening to your interview with Mr. Flannery and was really offended by his deragatory comments about the rise in rates that could occur when needed changes are implemented – something to the affect of “well if you can’t afford a 30% increase (snicker)” EXCUSE ME! Apparently the man has no understanding of the inter-reladeness of a price increase to utilities with the rest of the things we purchase.. nor does he seem to have a clue on what lower middle class or the poor experience on a day to day basis. He went on to say – just cut back on other things, or what you use.. whatever- which to a point is good, fine and we should all be doing that – but there does reach a point when you”ve cut everything back to the bare minimum.. then what.. MN Power has just recently raised rates in Duluth, now they want another nearly 20% rate increase.. I personally, can’t keep up.

  • bert

    Jo;

    As a paleontologist, I can tell you Alan does state fact. There have been numerous increases and decreases in the temperature of the atmosphere for millions of years.

    While he may be wrong about humans being a contributor, he is correct that people such as Al Gore and Tim Flannery don’t look back further than the past few centruries.

    It is scientific fact there has been warming and cooling prior to and since humans got involved.

    The question really needs to be how much is natural and how much is human induced. And that is the question that is not being looked at.

  • Rachel Attebery

    I purchase 100% wind energy through my electric utility, I am a weekday vegetarian, and I don’t fly.

  • Noelle

    Thank you Craig Blacklock! I agree wholeheartedly that the issue of overpopulation is so often overlooked in the climate change argument. (Let’s face it – the real need for effective family planning tends to be too often brushed aside in the abortion arguments)

    I live in an apartment so some of the ways I would like to reduce my impact don’t work as easily – for example, composting, or installing a programmable thermostat. However, I eat very little meat and try to purchase as much local food as I can afford. I also bus to work every day and recently upgraded to a more fuel efficient car.

  • Mary

    I try to do simple things that add up. I try not to let my car idle when it’s not necessary. I will get ready to drive before turning my car on, I shut my car off while waiting for trains and at the bank drive through. Small stuff like that is easy, it just takes awareness.

  • Carl Adams

    Sold my automobile–use bus, train and bicycle.

    Avoid wasting electricity & natural gas at home.

    Compost my garbage.

    Practice 3Rs–Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Note: Tthose actions are listed in order of preference, i.e. avoid buying things with excess packaging in the first place, is best. Re-use / re-purpose boxes, bottles, etc. is 2nd best, and Recycle is the 3rd best option.

    I agree with folk icon John Koerner that returnable bottles made more sense than recyclable ones.

    Further, more and more things have become “disposable”–lighters, razors, watches, even cameras…. This is absurd.

    Thanks to commenter “alan” for pointing out that CFLs contain mercury. I didn’t know that, and will look into it. But alan also said he “can’t afford” to buy CFLs. They pay for themselves many times over in reduced electricity use over one year.

    True, natural versus artificial global warming & cooling cycles do exist, but that does not negate the wisdom of considering the effects of human activity.

  • CO2emittier

    I fight global warming by flying coach to my Caribbean vacation instead of first class. (Come on, it has just as much effect on the planet as the rest of of these ideas).

  • GregS

    I exhale less.

  • Amy

    My big concern is not global warming but pollution. Whether a person beliefs in global warming or not, I don’t care. But I think it’s hard to argue against the fact that humans are destroying the oceans, contaminating soil, contaminating fresh water. Air pollution is a major health concern.

    I practice reduce, reuse, recycle. I bring my own bags to the store (not just the grocery store). I buy local products, but that has more to with wanting to help the local economy.

  • Peter

    When I moved from Minneapolis to DC I sold my car. With the public transit out here I don’t miss it at all. I will be back in Minneapolis the minute there is a viable public transit option.

  • Emily S

    I will be having a baby soon and I’ve decided to use organic cloth diapers and wipes. I also try not to buy products that have a lot of packaging.

  • Dana Reynolds

    My wife and I traded TWO cars for our Prius. My wife rides the bus to and from the Univ. of MN.

    We use CFL light bulbs. We get and pay bills on-line.

    Recycling here is a big challenge, since the Hennepin Co. recycling centers are SO far from the city’s center. Not everything is collected in recycling programs at residences.

  • Jenna

    Two of the most effective ways to fight global warming in your daily life are to reduce energy consumption, thereby cutting your carbon emissions, and consistently lobbying your Senators and Representatives to help pass strong climate legislation. The Kerry-Boxer bill is in committee now, and Copenhagen starts in just over a month. If there was ever a time, it’s now!

  • I JUST called my state legislator–virtually a first for me. I have been door knocking for a school board candidate over the last month and was appalled by the number of old an new phone directories stacked on porches, front stoops, and, inside apartment entry ways. One creative soul made a wall of directories that stood about 5 feet tall! Should’t we be able to stop the automatic delivery of these unwanted books that seem to have been replaced with, dah, the internet?

    Apparently a bill has gone before the legislature, blah, blah, blah. The upshot, we can opt out of the auto delivery if we go to the directory web site, etc.. Okay, how about opting IN instead? And if you live in an apartment or condo, the owner or association must do so.

    So, the wall will continue. I suspect it will land at the MIA soon.

  • Laura

    I can’t seem to find the time to create a garden and do the composting thing, but I have started throwing my food scraps in the woods at the edge of my yard. It sounds weird, but I think the critters are enjoying it!

  • Jesse M

    I do word of mouth advocacy and education of nuclear power.

    We should take the naturally occuring long-lived radioactive isotopes already found in the ground, purify them, run them through a nuclear reactor a few times, and then glassify the remains and bury them in a geologically inert area.

    If we replaced all our coal power plants with today’s technology in nuclear power plants, a very large chunck of the United States CO2 output would disappear.

    If we rewrote the laws to allow reprocessing of our nuclear waste, we’d reduce it by a large factor.

    It would also allow us to have a dependable electric source for when we increase our electricity uses by switching over to plugin hybrids.

    Lets do it.

    PS: I also eat vegan, use a bicycle for shopping trips, live in an apartment (less resources, more efficient to heat/cool), and try to live a simple, enjoyable life. 🙂

  • Michael

    We adopted a child instead of giving birth, use farmers market for local foods, reduced our consumption of meat to 1 meal a week, replace all appliances with highest ratings, CFL bulbs, lowered our heat/raised our air, buy used (Savers, Craig’s list, etc.) as often as possible, moved to a smaller house, organic compost, help with our son’s ROT program at school, use the clothes line in the summer, reduce, reuse and recycle everything we can, and go the the green expo annually for new ideas. Finally, I bike to work year round here in Mpls. and encourage my co-workers to bike or walk. We participate in the the Bike to Work Week in Hennepin Co. I also encourage my employer to do as many green things as possible.

  • Janet

    When putting an addition on our home we added solar generated electricity and hot water for the kitchen and bathrooms. We are hooked into the grid and can supply electricity back to the utility company, thereby reducing others’ consumption as well. I like the feeling of some independence in renewable energy production!

  • Robert Nepper

    I have developed a solar pasteurizer (4 gal/hr) to provide pure water for Developing Counties to reduce the need to denude forests.

    I have volunteered hundreds of hours supporting the production of solar ovens to save the burning of wood for cooking in Developing Countries.

  • William Herman

    We do as much as we can. Recycling, using less water when possible, changing lights to more efficient options, turning lights off.

    Mostly we try and do as much as we can to save money and some of that has a side affect of preventing global warming.

    If it’s not cost effective, we don’t do it.

  • Michael

    I am intrigued by your question about ‘what news story should we be paying more attention to? I am motivated to write not to supply some example of an underreported story, but to challenge the very validity of the question. For thirty years I taught literature to our city’s young men and women. I was careful to take notice of their likes and dislikes, where their passions lay, and how their mood, motivation, and background influenced their successes. However, never once did I stand before my class and ask them, “What do you want to learn today?”

    I was the expert. I made sure I knew what they needed know to succeed and grow as contributing members of our city, nation, and world. Now it seems that the news networks are asking their own viewers to become their reporters. It started with the callers to the ‘shock-jocks, where each participant could have his point of view reinforced while adding to the pool of ignorance. I’ve seen it on CNN. “Write or call. We want to hear what you think?” Are the news reporters worried that their listeners will think they are just making this all up? I depend on MPR not to treat news as entertainment, as it has become just about everywhere else.

    Your listeners are for the most part thoughtful and sensitive and will likely suggest a myriad of worthy news topics. The problem then becomes ‘if it was suggested as a topic, is a point of view implicit in that suggestion?’ A good example is one suggestion that we should hear more about the working poor. I’m sure she does not expect (in fact I doubt any rational person would expect) that the conclusions reached in investigating the working poor are that: “they deserve what they get. They are unmotivated—always have been. Just look at all the C’s in high school, and now they just want to live off the sweat of hard working Americans who were and are more motivated. They want free health care but don’t take care of their health. They spend their money foolishly and think Rush Limbaugh is god.” Would you go with the story? Does the fact that it was someone else’s story influence how it is treated? I think it’s a dangerous precedent.

    Give a reporter a budget and time to investigate not just the story that comes across his or her desk, but the very pulse of the community. I need to know that the reporters I read, listen to, and watch are the experts on what is news, and what news is important for us to know and what is merely entertainment.