If you live in Chicago or other parts of the Midwest, my heart goes out to you. Wind chills close to negative 60 degrees are no fun for anyone. And did you know that it was colder last week in Canada than it was on Mars? On January 2nd, it was 20.2 degrees below Fahrenheit on Mars. In Winnipeg, it was 23.8 degrees below Fahrenheit. While Canada does get cold in the Winter, it should never be colder than a planet further away from the sun. Needless to say, with temperatures that could freeze exposed skin in minutes, any New Year’s festivities were cancelled.
This extreme cold is due to something called a polar vortex. Now some skeptics might argue that a polar vortex is proof that climate change is nonexistent, but smarter people than me report that the extreme weather like the polar vortex is further evidence that the effects of climate change are already here – the polar vortex is hitting us in part because of a weakened jet stream, which is a direct result of global warming. While the argument over the extent of this can be argued about forever in a political debate forum, it’s never a bad thing to try and reduce your total carbon footprint.
But what can you do as an individual or a family? Here are a few great ideas to lower your carbon footprint:
Go without the car once in a while: While I wouldn’t recommend going out for a walk in this winter, it’s never a bad idea to use your car less, especially with rising gas prices. If walking or riding your bike to places is impossible, use public transportation or carpool to work, so you’re not taking your car everywhere. Plus, you might get in better shape. I hear that’s a major initiative this time of year.
Buy the right appliances and fixtures: You would be amazed by how much energy you lose simply through your windows or by using antiquated appliances. If you can, buy products that have the Energy Star symbol on it, which will indicate that it’s energy-efficient. In addition, try to curb your energy use. Use your washer/dryer/dishwasher when you need it, and remember to turn off all televisions and fixtures when you’re not using them.
Eat more plants: Although you might not want to hear it, meat consumption does put a damper on the environment. The energy it takes to raise animals is far more than the energy it takes to raise fruits, vegetables and grains. Now you don’t have to eat vegan all of the time (Meatless Monday is a good way to start) but anytime you can eat more lentils and less beef or pork, you’re reducing your overall carbon footprint.
Although you might not think it right now, our planet is getting warmer – at least according to most scientists. These are just a few of the ways you can do your part to make the planet just a little greener.