I’m a father, an environmentalist and an engineer, in other words I have a concern for the future of my children’s world and I approach things from a fact based point of view. It is very clear that we are permanently changing the planet that my children will inherit and I want to do what I can to address this problem.
No one argues that we are putting huge amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere, the arguments spring from what people believe the impact will be and how much to believe scientific computer models. I have a slightly different view, CO2 in the atmosphere is known to do at least 2 things:
- Carbon Dioxide traps heat, a phenomena that has simply to do with the absorption of heat by CO2 gas and was predicted about a 100 years ago. This does not need a computer model to say that something will happen when we increase the concentration of CO2 in our atmosphere.
- Carbon Dioxide in water makes carbonic acid, we are changing the ph of our oceans is another concern. The sea life in our oceans is very delicately balanced, so changing the ph will have some impact, probably dire.
The impacts of global warming and changing of the chemistry of our oceans will have dramatic impacts on where mankind can live and what we will have as food sources. So even if you only think the probability of these outcomes is a small chance, making investments to combat this and still have a good return on investment only make sense.
My response is to ask what can I do that makes the largest impact for the dollars invested.
We started with simple things like converting to compact fluorescent light bulbs. Then we installed a wood stove to decrease our use of non-renewable energy (oil). We then installed a geothermal heat pump which in tandem with our wood stove provides >95% of our heat and hot water. The next target was our old car, that was coming up on some serious maintenance, we replaced the 21 mpg car with a Toyota plug in Prius where we get >50 mpg so now I use approximately 60% less gasoline. My wife’s car will be next.
I had looked at solar electric many years ago and was very discouraged by the high cost and long pay back period, over 20 years payback with some questionable accounting. I was excited when a co-worker told me that he was getting solar panels installed and the costs had decreased and the incentives increased so that now the system would pay back my investment in about 8 years and after that it is pure profit. Where else can you get that certain a performance on an investment?
I am not deluded into thinking these actions by themselves will save our planet, but I’m hoping to lead by example and have been happy to hear others ask about what I’ve done and consider similar changes in their own lives. We have a long way to go and we need to all take some responsibility in finding solutions so that we are not ashamed of what we have done to our children’s world and future.