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We want to hear from you

Published on February 12, 2009 by in Admin

Have any suggestions for ClimateYou?  Is there a particular climate change related topic you would like to see us post more about?

We want to hear from you.  Either respond to this post or send us an email at climateyou@gmail.com. 

Your feedback is important to us as we are focused on making sure everyone learns the most important information about global climate change in an understandable manner.

 
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Trashing the fridge

How radical are you?  How committed to a small carbon footprint?  Are you radical enough and committed enough to pull the plug on your refrigerator? Some people are, although it is still considered a fringe choice — 99.5% of American homes have a refrigerator.  The people who’ve done it say it’s relatively easy to make the lifestyle change.  They’re generally happy with their decision.  But there are some costs involved.  One has to buy more food (because of spoilage) in smaller quantities (thus more packaging).  One has to cook more, which needs more time and forethought because items from the freezer must be thawed, and leftovers avoided.  It helps to live alone or as a couple, and don’t have to cook large meals for a family.  It also helps to live on a farm or within walking distance of a grocery store.  Yet the gains from unplugging the fridge are surprisingly small.  An 18-cubic-foot Energy Star-rated refrigerator uses about 380 kilowatt-hours a year, less than a clothes dryer, at a cost of $40 per year, or 11 cents a day.  Switching to a minifridge saves only about $6 a year. 
 
If you’re not willing to give up your refrigerator, clean the door gaskets and compressor coils once a year; every three months if you have a pet.  Refrigerators with the freezer on top are more efficient than side-by-side models.  Buy an Energy Star-rated unit for the same reason.  Open the door as little as possible, and don’t position the fridge in direct sunlight or next to the oven. 
 
If you were poor and lived overseas, you wouldn’t have any choices to make.  You’d have no fridge to unplug, no freezer or ice as workarounds, and never any leftovers.
 
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Global warming changing birds’ habitats

According to a new report released by the Audubon Society, over 350 species of birds are spending winters further north than they did 40 years ago.  While there are other factors which cause birds to change their range, scientists believe that the only explanation for such a large number of species to move north is global warming.  Over the past 40 years, temperatures in January have risen approximately 5 degrees Fahrenheit. With the warmer temperatures, the birds need less food to survive in the cold, allowing them to live in places that were previously inhabitable. Temperature changes have different effects of individual species, so while some birds may not travel as far south in the winter, others are traveling further north at the same time.

 
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Turning cooking oil into fuel for the county

From the New York Times, here is another example of a community going green.  Officials in Westchester County New York have started a program to collect excess cooking oil from restaurants to use an alternative fuel source to power county vehicles.  In total, the county has over 130 vehicles which use cooking oil as either a single fuel source or combined with diesel. Aside from reducing greenhouse gas emissions, using cooking oil to power county vehicles saves the government, restaurant owners and taxpayers money.

 
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Utilities turn their customers green, with envy

Utilities in 10 major metropolitan areas, including Sacramento, Chicago, and Seattle, have adopted a novel method to reduce energy consumption: keeping up with the neighbors.  Customers’ utility bills compare usage with neighbors in homes of similar size that use the same heating fuel.  Efficient customers receive smiley faces on their bills; below- average users get frowny faces, although some utilities stopped printing frowns when a few customers got upset.  The behavior modification program has been effective, reducing energy use by 2% more  than standard statements. Positive Energy, a software company, conceived of the statements and contacts to produce them. 

Colleges have used rivalries with nearby schools and even between dormitories to reduce energy use for over a decade. 

Brainshift Foundation, a nonprofit that raises environmental awareness through games, organized towns in Massachusetts to compete in a reality series called “Energy Smackdown.”  The towns formed teams that competed in such conservation categories as waste, heating fuel, electricity and food.  The results surprised the organizers, with some households reducing consumption by up to two-thirds.  Why did it work so well? For Donald Kelley, the head of the Brainshift Foundation, it was because, “as Americans, we are good at entertainment and competition.”

 
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