It's up to you

É no mínimo gratificante encontrar textos bem articulados, com argumentação respaldada por princípios científicos a fortalecer nossos posicionamentos pessoais frequentemente criticados.

Senti isso quando tive acesso ao texto abaixo e me lembrei do que postei aqui, no início do ano, sobre o “Copenhagen 2009”.

Este texto é, na verdade, um capítulo do livro intitulado “The weather makers”, do cientista e conservacionista australiano Tim Flannery. Em sua obra, Flannery analisa o comportamento humano contemporâneo, seu impacto ambiental e explora ainda as conseqüências potenciais de tal comportamento.

Chapter 35: Over to You

There is one thing that no CEO can afford to look away from – the melee of buyers and sellers known as the market. It is my firm belief that all the efforts of government and industry will come to naught unless the good citizen and consumer takes the iniciative, and in tackling climate change the consumer is in a most fortunate position.

You can, in a few months rather than the fifty years allowed by some government, easily attain the 70 % reduction in emissions required to stabilize the earth’s climate. All it takes are a few changes to your personal life, none of which requires serious sacrifices.

Understanding how you use electricity is the most powerful tool in your armory, for that allows you to make effective decisions about reducing your personal emissions of CO2. To begin, pick up and read carefully your electricity bill. Is your bill higher than it was at the same time last year? If so, why? A phone call or e-mail inquiry to your power supplier may help clarify this.

If you wish to take more decisive action, the best place for most people to start is with hot water. In the developed world, roughly one-third of CO2 emissions result from domestic power, and one-third of a typical domestic power bill is spent on heating water. This is crazy, since the sun will heat your water for free if you have the right device. An initial outlay is required, but such are the benefits that it is well worth taking out a loan to do so, for in sunny climates like California or southern Europe the payback period is around two or three years, and as the devices usually carry a ten-year guarantee, that means at least seven to eight years of free hot water. Even in cloudy regions such as Germany and Britain, you will get several year’s worth of hot water for free.

If you wish to reduce your impact even further, start with the greatest consumers of power, which for most people are air conditioning, heating, and refrigeration. If you are thinking of installing any such items, you should seek out the most energy-efficient model available.

A good rule of thumb is to choose the smallest device to suit your average needs, and consider alternatives: it may be cheaper to install insulation rather than buying and running a larger heater or cooler. It can be difficult to convince children that they need to turn off appliances when they are finished with them. One way to teach them is for a family to examine its power bill together and set a target for reduction. When it’s met, give the kids the savings.

It is not feasible right now for most of us to do away with burning fossil fuels for transport, but we can greatly reduce their use. Walking wherever possible is highly effective, as is taking public transport. Hybrid fuel vehicles are twice as fuel efficient as a standard, similar-sized car, and trading in your four-wheel-drive or SUV for a medium-sized hybrid fuel car cuts your personal transport emissions by 70% in one fell swoop.

For those who cannot or do not wish to drive a hybrid, a good rule is to buy the smallest vehicle capable of doing the job you most often require. You can always rent for the rent for the rare occasions you need something larger. A few years from now, if you have invested in solar power, you should be able to purchase a compressed-air vehicle. Then you can truly thumb your nose at all of those power and gas bills.

As you read through this list of vacations to combat climate change, you might be skeptical that such steps can have such a huge impact. But not only is our global climate approaching a tipping point, our economy is as well, for the energy sector is about to experience what the Internet brought to the media – an age wherein previously discrete products are in competition with each other, and with the individual.

If enough of us buy green power, solar panels, solar hot water systems, and hybrid vehicles, the cost of these items will plummet. This will encourage the sale of yet more panels and wind generators, and soon the bulk of domestic power will be generated by renewable technologies. This will place sufficient pressure on industry that, when combined with the pressure from Kyoto, it will compel energy-hungry enterprises to maximize efficiency and turn to clean power generation. This will make renewables even more affordable. As a result, the developing world – including China and India – will be able to afford clean power rather than filthy coal.

With a little help from you, right now, the developing giants of Asia might even avoid the full carbon catastrophe in which we, in the industrialized world, find ourselves so deeply mired.
Much could go wrong with this linked lifeline to climate safety. It may be that the big power users will infiltrate governments further and stymie the renewable sector; or maybe we will act too slowly, and nations such as China and India will have already invested in fossil fuel generation before the price of renewable comes down. Or perhaps the rate of climate change will be discovered to be too great and we will have to drawn CO2 from the atmosphere.

As these challenges suggest, we are the generation fated to live in the most interesting of times, for we are now the weather makers, and the future of biodiversity and civilization hangs on our actions.

I have done my best to fashion a manual on the use of Earth’s thermostat. Now it’s over to you.

The weather makers -  Tim Flannery