Tag Archives: climate change

Oh, this isn’t good

Arctic ice-cap melting faster than anyone predicted

This whole climate change really has me freaked out and sad and just feeling so impotent.  So often it feels like the changes that could make any sort of difference are so expensive and lofty and I just don’t want it to all be so hard!

I came across an article that sums up pretty well the feelings.  Basically, there’s a grief process that goes along with accepting climate change.  I feel like I’m right in the middle of it.

But I’m trying, I really am.  We bought reusable grocery bags for shopping, and we buy biodegradable pooper-scooper bags for cleaning up after Bailey, our golden retriever.  Frank’s next car will nearly certainly be a hybrid, assuming we can put off buying a different car for him for at least a couple years and can find a good deal on a used one.

But reading that whole arctic ice-cap thing has me really bummed, especially because I love polar bears.  Who wouldn’t love polar bears?!?  They are fluffy and cute and they could rip your heart out with one swipe of a paw.  They are magnificent.

As you may or may not be aware, polar bears need ice.  Without the Arctic Ocean all frozen and stuff, their hunting territory shrinks.  They cannot hunt.  And they die.

So I am left to wonder — what can I do, TOMORROW, to help the polar bears?  Something small, something fairly effortless, something tangible but without hardship?  Let’s see.  I know, I’ll lower my thermostat.  It’s chilly in these parts, but surely I can survive with my house’s thermostat at 66 tomorrow instead of 68.  If we get cold, we own sweaters.  And I was thinking of going to the mall anyway, as it is the last day of Old Navy’s killer post-holiday 75% off clearance sale, so if we go, I will be sure to lower the thermostat all the way down to 60.

I know it’s small.  I wish it could be bigger.  But I am but one person and for tomorrow, this is my best.

A different sort of drought

We’ve all heard the ditty “if it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down”. This is often reserved for people operating on septic systems, in RVs, or who have lost water service and is often recited as a joke vs. a real way of operating on a day-to-day basis.

Consider this, though.

Right now the U.S. is facing serious drought situations in many parts of the country. Many reputable sources agree that the current climate change – and whether you believe in the man made aspect of it, the fact is the climate is changing – will only make current and future droughts longer and more severe.

(To be fair, there are also plenty of naysayers when it comes to the ‘reality’ of climate change. But I personally believe that the climate is changing, this really can’t be refuted anymore, and I’m pretty sure the human race isn’t helping.)

So where does your toilet come in here? Let’s assume that every household has a low-flow toilet, one that only uses 1.6 gallons of water per flush. What would be the outcome if every household in America every day just let one “yellow mellow”?

There are, according to U.S. Census estimates, approximately 112,000,000 households in the United States in 2008. (A household includes all the persons who occupy a housing unit. A housing unit is a house, an apartment, a mobile home, a group of rooms, or a single room that is occupied (or if vacant, is intended for occupancy) as separate living quarters.) Now, to be totally fair, according to the 2000 Census there were about 670,000 homes without indoor plumbing, so let’s call it 111,000,000 households that can impact this here.

If each of those 111 MILLION households participated just once per day in the whole “let it mellow” way of life, it would save the U.S. over 177,000,000 gallons of water every single day.

That’s the same amount of water:

  • that flows over Niagara Falls over 5 seconds — which may not seem like a huge deal if you’ve never seen the Falls up close, but if you have — that’s a helluva lot of water.
  • that would fill over 19,000 standard backyard above-ground swimming pools
  • I could put together another example but frankly it’s really hard to do. If you don’t realize that 177 million gallons in a day is a buttload of water then I’m not sure what else to tell you.

So, think about getting in the habit of letting it mellow a little more. Your water bill – and the planet – may thank you later.