From the Publisher – Putting My Best Footprint Forward

Ok, so Al Gore got a little caught up in hyperbole, but there are some inconvenient truths in An Inconvenient Truth.

You remember Al Gore, right? You know, the guy many claim was denied the presidency in 2000 by a few hanging chads. The guy who created the Internet (he didn’t, and he didn’t actually claim that). The guy—in fact, one of the first politicians I can remember—who tried to make climate change a national discussion.

Gore took a lot of heat (no pun intended) for his claims about the Internet, not to mention his sky-is-falling call for action on global warming chronicled in the 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth. Truth is, Gore was a politician ahead of his time in recognizing the vast potential of the Internet. And today he is seen as more visionary than alarmist when it comes to climate change.

Unfortunately, it takes cries that the sky is falling to get people to look up from their cell phones. But we’re finally looking up. And taking action, hopefully, before it’s too late.

The herd of global warming deniers is thinning. With the exception of Mitch McConnell and the oil and coal barons, climate change is being accepted as a real and present threat.

But it takes time to break old habits and, quite frankly, I’m as guilty as the next. Until recently, I hadn’t given much thought to my carbon footprint. Oh, I recycled and tried to be somewhat environmentally conscious. But was I letting concerns about the environment affect my personal energy consumption? Was I considering how I could reduce my footprint?

No, I was among the consume-and-keep-walking crowd. It wasn’t complete disregard for the environment. It was more…oh, you know…inconvenient to think deeply about. Fortunately, glaciers melt slowly, giving me and millions like me time to wake up and smell the urgency.

On pages 24-25, you will find an infographic with suggestions from some of the O&A staff on simple ways to reduce your carbon footprint. The staff promise to practice what they preach. Furthermore, at right I’m announcing my 2016 resolution to reduce the duPhily family carbon footprint.

Have I shared this resolution with my family? You mean, before this column?
Like a good diet, I will start small, with practical, relatively easy behavior adjustments. Hey, one doesn’t begin a running regimen by going out and entering a marathon.

10 Easy Things the duPhilys Are Doing in 2016 to Reduce Their Carbon Footprint

• Eat the leftovers. It saves money and reduces the food waste that ends up in the landfill. In the U.S., 40% of food is thrown out every year. (My wife is doubled over with laughter right now, as I am pretty weak when it comes to eating leftovers. But that was the old Jerry. So I’m good with chili for the fifth straight night. Call me “The Carbonator.”)
• Quit warming up the cars in cold weather—it’s a waste of fuel. (Even when it’s 10 degrees out.)
• Cut down on bottled water. (The number of containers our household recycles in a year is embarrassing. And those water bottles are convenient. This is a major concession.)
• Use only compact fluorescent light bulbs. (If every home in the U.S. switched to these bulbs it would reduce the electricity spent on lighting by half. Enough said.)
• Quit running water when brushing our teeth. (I’ll be watching … and looking in the mirror.)
• Make sure all of our car tires are properly inflated for better gas mileage. (I’m pretty good about this for my car, but our household now has four cars and four drivers. Tire gauges would have been a good stocking stuffer.)
• Unplug gadgets and chargers when not in use. (It’s remembering to unplug the chargers that will take some discipline.)
• Buy produce only in season and make sure it’s locally grown. (I don’t actually do the grocery shopping, but I’ll diplomatically make this recommendation.)
• Begin using rechargeable batteries. (Off my radar until it was suggested in our staff discussion. I’m on it.)
• Eat a lot less beef. (After reading a recent Outside magazine article about the energy needed to raise cattle, not to mention the methane gas emitted by cows, we’ll be eating a lot more…PIZZA!)

These steps might seem minimal and if I’m the only one doing them, they will be. But multiplied by thousands, even millions, they will add up to major change. They may be inconvenient, but let’s face it, sometimes the truth hurts.