Monday, December 22, 2008

The urgency of Climate Change

Most of the time it's very hard to stay in touch with the sense of urgency that the climate change requires of us. Right now in Bethlehem, PA, where I live, we are chilled to the bone, with chill factors in the single digits, the streets icy and forlorn. We might celebrate the decreased traffic if it weren't for the knowledge of thousands of furnaces burning oil, coal and gas, and huge amounts of electric heat from nuclear and coal powered plants. 

How can we keep our focus on global warming when winter freezes our brains? But focus we must. We can turn off lights we aren't using; turn the thermostat down when we go out, keep the temperature at 68° rather than above 70°; consolidate errands and use the car less, perhaps not at all some days. 

I'm trying to learn to dress more warmly indoors: this year I've taken to wearing leg warmers most of the time. I also recommend bathing less frequently - only every two or three days: you'll save on water and heating energy. Our parents to some degree and certainly our grandparents knew about saving energy, keeping warm, turning off lights.

It embarrasses me that I have cold-induced asthma, which limits my ability to walk outdoors in this kind of weather. Because that is what I would recommend: that we face the cold as the generations before us did, walking and playing even in the coldest of weathers. 

As I started preparing for this walk that starts in March, I read Granny D's book, Walking Across America in my 90th Year. A hearty New Englander, Granny D wasn't afraid of the cold, and she actually took to her cross-country skis when a blizzard blocked the roads in the last few weeks of her trek from Los Angeles to Washington, DC. - she was 90 years old at that point. What an inspiration! 

The scientists tell us that chaotic weather patterns result from global warming, and some places will face much colder weather even as the overall temperatures rise on our planet. So keep the focus, don't let down your guard, and lower your carbon footprint every step of the way.

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