Conserve, NOW!: Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Other Environme ntal
Conserve, NOW!: Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Other Environmental
For at Labor & Sustainability Conference Workshops: January 19th-20th, 2007, St. Paul, MN
"The Labor & Sustainability Conference is one of the first of its kind in the region and is intended to be both educational as well as solution-and-action-oriented from a labor and ecological perspective. The organizers believe that it is indeed possible to have both a healthy environment and decent-paying union jobs so that workers can be guaranteed a secure future for their children and grandchildren."
"CONSERVE, NOW! REDUCING GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS AND OTHER
ENVIRONMENTAL COSTS BY OFFERING FINANCIAL INCENTIVES THAT REWARD LESS
DRIVING, FLYING AND HOME ENERGY USE"
"For all practical purposes, there is today only one world suitable
for man. Measured by nature's standards rather than by those of
historical man, it is at present a delicately balanced, highly
perishable world that has evolved over long geologic epochs of
environmental change. And man, acting as if he owned this world, or at
least had come into leasehold possession of it, has played his role as
lessee very indifferently�" (Lyton Caldwell, 1971)
This paper provides the framework for offering temporary positive
voluntary financial incentives for reducing automobile driving,
airplane travel, and annual home energy use. While the paper is mostly
focused on reducing energy use in the State of Wisconsin, the
methodology could be applied nationally, or even worldwide.
In general, the main source of funding for the financial incentives
would be the savings in user fee revenue generated by not having to
build the additional highway, airport and energy plant capacity
The federal transportation fund, the aviation trust fund and public
and private energy utility accounts would fund the program.
After significant reductions in public motorized travel and home
energy use occur, "transportation fees", as defined in this paper,
could be charged on commercial and industrial goods shipped long
distances (by truck, air or plane - thus burning up considerable
fossil fuels), and the revenue generated from that source could also
be used to fund the program, if necessary.
Finally, and ideally, it would be good, and right, if all investments
in military preparedness, throughout the world, could be phased out,
and eventually eliminated. This "phase out", should begin no later
than the end of 2001. Complete abandonment of national militaries
should be scheduled for January 1, 2005.
The money generated by the phase out of military operations throughout
the world should be used to fund the Conserve, NOW! Program; thus
providing ample world financial resources to eliminate all world
hunger, world poverty, disease and ignorance (due to limited family
funds for education), for all the world's citizens, and the world
society as a complete whole.
Offering world citizens and families "financial incentives" for low
annual driving miles traveled on highways, whether they choose to
drive at all or not, and for low (or no) annual flying miles traveled,
and for using less than typical therms of energy in their households,
as defined in this paper, would greatly reduce worldwide greenhouse
gas emissions to the atmosphere, by at least 25%, on a yearly basis.
Bringing into fruition a worldwide environmental mitigation strategy,
such as the strategy outlined in the text below, would help humankind
deal not just with one problem, but with many problems. The problems
are interrelated, to some degree, but not so much by the commonality
of the trouble they cause; but more importantly by the commonality of
the solution needed to abate them. Rather, than deal with each
particular problem and issue by itself, the Conserve, NOW! proposal
would bring forth a multifaceted, but uniform, attack on the many
interrelated problems that have grown and grown over time in the
world, and now threaten to annihilate the world, in its entirety.
Rapid Global Heating
Global warming of the Earth is now a certainty. Earth's temperatures
are rising, faster and faster each year. The reason is too much fossil
fuel burning by a growing and ever more energy-dependent human
Burning fossil fuels for energy releases greenhouse gases (carbon
dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane, others) to the air, which contributes
to the growing stockpiling of those gases in the Earth's atmosphere.
The increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere
ultimately increase the ability of the Earth's atmosphere to capture
and hold the Sun's heat. And since many of the greenhouse gases remain
in the atmosphere for centuries, their concentrations continue to
increase as more and more fossil fuels are burned on Earth, resulting
in a stronger and stronger "greenhouse effect" in the Earth's
atmosphere, over time.
Each gallon of gasoline (or diesel fuel) combusted either in cars,
trucks, boats, planes, recreational vehicles, equipment, etc., adds 22
additional pounds of carbon dioxide to the Earth's atmosphere's
stockpile of greenhouse gases, where it will remain upwards of 120
years (Worrest, 2000).
Each ton of coal combusted in power plants or other furnaces adds
7,320 pounds of carbon dioxide to the Earth's stockpile of atmospheric
greenhouse gases, where it also will remain upwards of 120 years.
Each therm of natural gas combusted in furnaces or appliances adds 11
pounds of carbon dioxide to the Earth's stockpile of greenhouse gases,
where it, too, will remain upwards of 120 years.
Scientists now say global warming has actually been in progress for
several decades already, but that various measurement complexities
have prevented them from actually proving it. The rate of global
warming has accelerated since the mid-1950s when it was first
predicted. The continuously growing stockpile of greenhouse gases
being added to the Earth's atmosphere is making Earth's atmosphere
much more effective in "trapping" the Sun's energy.
And scientists now say the rate at which Earth's atmosphere is heating
up is reason for worldwide concern; they are sounding the alarm for
urgent, major action to slow global warming down, because the ultimate
effect of continued global warming could conceivably be catastrophic
to all Earth's life forms.
There is only one widely known and currently available method for
slowing global warming down, immediately. That method is energy
conservation. Energy conservation methods might include driving less;
flying less, buying more energy efficient (and smaller) homes,
automobiles and appliances; buying locally produced goods whenever,
and wherever, possible; and greatly reducing (or eliminating)
participation in recreational sports or activities that burn fossil
fuels for energy.
Many energy conservation methods were employed by the public, with
considerable success, in the-mid 1970's and early 1980's, in response
to the "energy crisis" and relatively high fuel prices. Energy
conservation was also successful during time of World War II, when
conservation of fuel was necessary for the war effort. Energy
conservation was successful then, and it can be successful now, to
reduce the threat of continued global warming.
Energy conservation is the only realistic and economically feasible
option for conserving energy in the next several years. The risk of
humans failing to successfully slow global warming today far exceeds
any imaginable or real economic or convenience losses that might have
to be borne in the short term by today's populous.
In time, alternative technologies are likely to be developed and
available that will allow humans to use energy, without emitting
dangerous levels of greenhouse gases to the Earth's atmosphere. But
that time has not yet arrived. Consequently, conservation of energy
must begin immediately.
The effects of continuing to release substantial quantities of
greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, by burning fossil fuels or
produced through fossil fuel burning, are cumulative and irreversible.
"Reducing emissions is the most important action we can take now to
minimize damage to people, ecosystems, and economies" (Bloomfield,
Increases in Automobile Driving in Wisconsin and U.S.
The population of the State of Wisconsin increased from 4.4 million in
1970 to 5.2 million in 1998, an 18% increase (Wisconsin Legislative
Reference Bureau, 1999). The number of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) on
Wisconsin highways increased from 21.9 billion VMT in 1970 to 50.4
billion VMT 1998, a 132% increase. (Table 1).
To view tables, please see Appendix A in document at:
The average family of 4 in Wisconsin traveled 19,880 miles in 1970. In
1998, they traveled 39,000 total miles, a 96% increase.
The per capita vehicle mileage that Wisconsin residents traveled in
1980 (including children and adults choosing not to drive) was 6,358
miles per capita. By 1998, this had increased to 9,680 miles per
capita (excluding heavy trucks). Result: the average Wisconsin
resident traveled 52 percent more miles in a vehicle in 1998 than the
average Wisconsin resident traveled by auto in 1980.
The total highway vehicle passenger miles traveled in the U.S.,
excluding miles counted for heavy truck and bus travel, is estimated
to be 3.8 trillion miles per year. The total VMT in the U.S. is
estimated to be 2.36 trillion miles per year. (U.S. Department of
Costs of Providing for Increased Automobile Driving in Wisconsin and
In 1999, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation proposed a plan to
provide for the projected motor vehicle driving needs in Wisconsin
through 2020 called Wisconsin State Highway Plan 2020 (WisDOT, 1999).
The plan recommends $20 billion be spent on new state highway
construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation and maintenance through
2020. The plan proposes approximately one third of the $20 billion
($7.3 billion) be used for new highway capacity expansion projects,
for the purpose of accommodating increased driving by Wisconsin
The cost of the plan is to be paid by users of the state and local
highway system through fuel taxes and annual vehicle license fees.
The $7.3 billion is the monetary cost of building the new highway
capacity expansion projects. It does not cover the cost of maintaining
those new highways, nor does it cover the non-monetary "environmental
cost" of building the new highways. The environmental cost of new
highway development can be substantial.
New highway building generally creates a direct environmental cost as
highway corridors often must be built through farmland, wildlife
habitat, wetlands and other valuable natural and productive landscape.
Indirect costs from improving travel on the highway are many and
diffuse. They include: more air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions
(from increased auto emissions); more vehicle travel noise, roadkills
and possibly more human injuries and fatalities (because of increasing
traffic levels), and, of course, more urban sprawl development.
Urban sprawl development is really nothing more than misplaced urban
development. It is facilitated by improved highways because the added
auto accessibility the improved highways provide makes longer auto
commutes simpler, safer, and, of course, quicker.
Improved highways make it easier and safer for people to live outside
of cities, yet retain reasonable access to the amenities and the
services that cities traditionally provide (jobs, entertainment,
shopping, etc.). In essence, improved highways enable commuters to
take advantage of the city's benefits, regardless of whether they
reside or pay property taxes in the city, and irrespective of the
environmental costs their automobile driving has on others in the
afflicted communities along the way, or the Earth's environment in
The quantity of carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere by
automobiles traveling in Wisconsin was 17.6 million tons in 1970
(Table 2). In 1998, it was 26.0 million tons, an increase of 47%. For
the foreseeable future, it will continue to increase with increasing
levels of traffic.
The increased use and expansion of Wisconsin's highway system through
2020, as approved by the Wisconsin DOT, will increase the quantity of
greenhouse gas emitted to the atmosphere even more, since it removes
impediments to driving more miles on the highway system. This method
of addressing travel "needs" (building in more highway capacity) has
traditionally been the most popular approach to dealing with
increasing traffic problems in the United States (and elsewhere). But
it clearly has come at considerable economic, social and environmental
In contrast, providing incentives to bring about reductions in
automobile travel would reduce traffic levels (estimated by up to
25%), negating the need to build more highway infrastructure, and
reducing the environmental and social costs of continuously increasing
automobile and SUV driving throughout the state.
Financial Incentives for Reducing Vehicle Miles Traveled in Wisconsin
Rather than spend $7.3 billion on highway capacity expansion over the
next 20 years, the State of Wisconsin could establish a program that
provides financial incentives to Wisconsin households who voluntarily
limit their motor vehicle travel in a year. The source of funding for
the financial incentives program would be the portion of the gas taxes
and annual vehicle license fees that would have otherwise been paid
for the $7.3 billion worth of new highways. Since the projected number
of vehicles operating on the highway system will have been reduced by
less driving, the need for building more capacity into the highway
system will have been effectively eliminated, making it possible to
return those funds to the public.
Following is an example of how the VMT reduction plan would work:
A family of four with two drivers voluntarily enrolls in the program
by driving its car(s) into the local Department of Motor Vehicles
office, paying $30 in administrative fees, and getting the mileage on
their vehicle's odometer(s) officially recorded. Alternatively, DOT
offices could be staffed with employees or volunteers who would travel
to neighborhoods to officially record the participating households'
vehicle(s) odometer mileage. [Technology also is now available,
patented through the auto insurance industry, that enables vehicle
mileage of many vehicles to be monitored, and recorded, from a central
location. This would eliminate the need for manual checking of vehicle
After a year goes by, (based on participant's day of choice), the
participant(s) would receive a $400 check if the participant's
odometer(s) showed less than 13,500 miles for the preceding year
(Table 3). If the family participant managed to lower the household
vehicle mileage traveled to 9,000 miles over the year, they would earn
The fewer miles the family drives in a year, the more money it could
earn as a reward for "driving less" for that year. Households not
owning or driving personally registered cars would be eligible to
receive a maximum of $2,800 for that year, as a payment, (or reward),
for not contributing to the financial, social, or environmental costs
of automobile driving borne by everybody.
Methodology for Calculating Financial Incentives for Reducing Total
The methodology used for computing the financial incentives for low
annual VMT is as follows:
Total Household Mileage Threshold/Year
= x + Dx + Px
Where x = 1,000 (1�6) household vehicle(s) miles;
D = Number of Additional Drivers (.75)
P = Number of Persons in Household (.25)
A 25% reduction in vehicular travel is postulated with full
implementation of the plan, at a cost of $810 million a year. Using an
average reward of $400 for each Wisconsin household each year: $400 X
2,026,000 HH (Wisconsin Bureau of Energy, 1999) = $810,400,000.
After 10 years of awarding the financial incentives, the program could
be ended, since the behavioral change resulting in reduced driving
will have become permanent, eliminating the need to continue offering
the incentives. If their was a need to continue the program after 10
years, to maintain the financial incentives program for reduced
driving, a supplemental tax on the price of gasoline could be levied
to continue with the funding on the program.
By offering financial incentives to households who record low annual
motor vehicle miles traveled in a year, this transportation
alternative would encourage people to make more informed choices about
where to live relative to where they need to travel. When they do need
to travel, the financial incentives would encourage them to choose
more environmentally friendly means of travel (bicycling, walking,
taking a bus, carpooling), over driving environmentally harmful and
greenhouse gas emitting automobiles. Table 4 lists other ways to
reduce vehicular travel on public highways. Table 5 provides the
corresponding modal energy efficiencies relative to automobile
Increases in Air Travel
At an international aviation conference held recently in Chicago,
United Airlines chief James Goodwin was reported (Associated Press,
1999) as saying the projected increases in air traffic in the U.S. are
"frightening", and that "the skies are crowded and getting more so
every day". According to the report, Goodwin warned, "the global skies
are teeming with so many planes that the entire airline industry is
The U.S. DOT Bureau of Transportation Statistics' data shows U.S.
enplanements on scheduled domestic flights increased from 297 million
emplanements, in 1980, to 634 million in 1999 (a 114 percent
increase). The U.S. Census Bureau reports the U.S. population
increased 21 percent from 1980-1999, from 226 million to 274 million;
therefore, the effective airline emplanement increase, exclusive of
population increases from 1980 to 1999, was 93%. This means the
average U.S. citizen today flies twice as many times a year as the
average U.S. citizen did in 1980.
The U.S. commercial airline industry burned 10.7 billion gallons of
fuel in domestic and international operations in 1979 (@ $.58/gal). By
1999, the industry burned 19.6 billion gallons (@$.53/gal), an
increase of 83 percent over the amount of fuel burned in 1979. The
effective increase in gallons of fuel burned in airlines from 1979 to
1999 was 62 percent.
In servicing the increasing number Americans who chose to travel by
airplane in 1999, American airplanes discharged 215.6 million tons of
carbon dioxide to the Earth's atmosphere.
Methodology for Calculating Financial Incentives for Reducing AMT
The methodology used for computing the financial incentives for low
annual airplane miles traveled (AMT) is as follows:
Airplane Mileage Threshold/Year/Person = y
Where y = 100 (1�6) miles flown in an airplane
A schedule for providing financial incentives for encouraging U.S.
citizens to fly less is provided in Table 6.
The reward threshold is not increased for families having more than 5
No exclusions would be allowed for business trip mileage. This would
provide added incentives for business to minimize employee air travel
How the program would work:
Any person over 18 years of age who chooses to enroll in the AMT
reduction rewards program would need to file a one-time application
with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), along with a nominal
administrative fee. That person would then be registered for the
program for life, and therefore eligible for annual rewards each year
that he or she commercially flies less than the amount of threshold
miles specified in Table 6.
The FAA would require that each commercial airline document the annual
mileage flown by all registered AMT participants using its service.
Each airline service would be required to prepare and forward
individual mileage summaries for each registered AMT participant to
the FAA by the end of the calendar year. The FAA would summarize the
total annual miles flown for each AMT participant and issue the
incentive payments based on the amounts specified in Table 6.
Funding for AVT Reduction Incentives
Some of the money to fund the financial incentives would be available
from the money saved by not having to build additional airport
runways, taxiways, terminals, and to employ additional airport
personal to service the otherwise projected increases in the number of
flights. Environmental savings would result from reduced greenhouse
gas emissions, reduced air pollution, reduced noise, less air traffic
congestion, and less wildlife habitat and farmland loses from airport
The remainder of the funds would be provided from federal taxes levied
on the price of aviation fuel, as a fixed percentage of each gallon of
aviation fuel combusted, in commercial and non commercial aircraft
(excluding only military aircraft). If one dollar in tax were charged
for each gallon of aviation fuel used by airlines in the U.S., this
would generate $20 billion to help fund the program.
Congress recently authorized nearly $10 billion for airport
infrastructure development over the next 3 years (GAO, 2000). This
amount, coupled with the $20 billion in fuel tax revenues over the
next 3 years would be enough money to provide financial incentives of
an average of $1,000 per year for 23,000,000 adults in the U.S., or
more than 11% of the country's total adult population.
Currently, aviation fuel is purchased and combusted by the airline
industry to power its planes, tax-free.
Financial Incentives for Encouraging Household Energy Conservation
Just as positive incentives can be used to encourage reduced fossil
fuel burning dependent automobile and airplane travel, so too can
positive financial incentives encourage reduced energy use in homes.
Utilities could offer financial incentives to encourage people to use
less energy in heating, cooling and lighting their homes, and for
minimizing uses of other forms of electricity in their daily lives.
This would reduce cumulative power demands, reducing the need to build
more power plants, transmission lines, fuel lines and other
expenditures and environmental costs associated with increased
Depending on the amount of the reductions, significant cutbacks in
global greenhouse gas emissions might be possible from power plants
that burn fossil fuel for electricity, or from other utilities that
distribute fuel and natural gas for direct burning in household
Wisconsin's per capita (per individual) resource energy consumption in
homes in 1998 was 404 therms (Table 7). A 4-person household in
Wisconsin uses, on average, 1,600 therms of energy in the home for
heating and electrical conveniences (4 X 400 therms).
Financial incentives for encouraging energy conservation in homes
would work similar to the systems used for encouraging people to
reduce their driving and flying. That is, households using low per
family size annual energy amounts could be eligible to receive
monetary returns at the end of the year for conserving energy (Table
Methodology for Calculating Financial Incentives for Reducing Total
The methodology used for computing the incentives for low energy use
is as follows:
Total Household Energy Use Threshold/Year
= z + Rz
Where z = 100 (1�6) therms
R = Number of Additional Residents X .25
No additional credit is provided for more than 5 person residing in
the household, and the enrolled persons must occupy the home at least
90 percent of the total number of days in the proposed year of
There are many things homeowners and renters could do to improve
energy efficiencies in their homes and reduce overall fuel and
Appendix B identifies some ways to reduce energy use in the home and
recreation activities that burn fossil fuels that should be avoided.
The state could also subsidize consumer's purchase of energy efficient
compact flourescents. At least one consumer still uses some of the
less energy efficient condescends simply because the initial purchase
price of compact flourescents is several times as costly as the less
energy efficient alternatives.
Funding for Low Home Energy Use Incentives
Assuming 25% of reductions in energy use could be achieved without
cost to the economy (DeCanio, 1997), the amount of money that would be
needed on an annual basis for this household energy conservation
measure would be the same as that required for the VMT reduction
incentives ($810 million, annually).
The money to fund the financial incentives would be available from the
money saved by not having to build additional power plants,
lines and power stations in the future, money that therefore becomes
available because of the reduced energy demands.
For example, Wisconsin Energy Corporation has proposed to spend $6
billion to build three new power plants in Wisconsin and upgrade other
WEC power generation facilities to accommodate projected public
demands for more power. The plans call for a new power plants in Port
Washington (gas-fired); Oak Creek (coal-fired) and another coal-fired
plant in an undetermined location in Wisconsin.
As to the nation as a whole, USA TODAY (article by Fred Bayles,
9/11/00), following their review of utility industry projections,
suggests the cost of building new power facilities to meet growing
demands will approach $80 billion during the next two decades. That
amount would fund an annual average financial incentive of $155 per
year for 25% per cent of U.S. households, who might be expected to
apply for the low energy use financial incentives (by such measures
listed in Appendix B.)
Additional non-monetary environmental savings would result from
reduced greenhouse gas emissions, reduced air pollution, less wildlife
habitat and farmland loss from building more power plants and
transmission lines in those areas, and reduced discharges of excess
cooling water, since less cooling water would be needed for reduced
An additional method of funding financial incentives for environmental
conservation, which would itself help reduce greenhouse gas emissions,
would be the adoption of a "transportation tax" on raw materials and
products requiring transportation over a certain distance. This would
lead to reductions in the amount of energy used in transporting
The U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) should be given the
authority to collect a "transportation tax" on all raw materials and
products sold in the United States, that are transported over 50
miles, whether the transportation is via land, water or air. The tax
would be applicable to all raw materials, intermediary and final goods
commercially transported over 50 miles, at a cost of 10 cents per
item, 10 cents per pound weight, or 10 cents per cubic foot, whichever
unit amount is higher. The total transportation tax for a shipment
would thus be the sum of the applicable per unit tax of the products
that are shipped, multiplied by the number of miles the products are
shipped (from origin to destination).
The USDOT would collect the money in this program and place it into a
"transportation tax fund" (TTF). The money that accumulates into the
TTF would be used to provide financial incentives to the public to
reduce driving, flying and energy consumed in homes.
Other sources federal surpluses available should be used for this
purpose as well, since the beneficiary of conserving energy and
reducing greenhouse gas and other emissions will spread to all U. S.
citizens, and the U.S. economic system should provide higher rewards
for environmentally conscientious decisions than is now provided.
Major new highway, airport and power plant investments require
billions of public dollars to build, their construction causes major
and significant environmental disruption, and their end uses create
significant air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and other adverse
environmental consequences. Government has the responsibility to
protect and uphold the general welfare of its citizenry. Ensuring
positive financial incentives are provided to the public, to
discourage overuse of highways, air space and energy resources, and
thereby to reduce the need to build new highways, airports and power
generating infrastructure, is an appropriate and worthwhile function
Continuing to burn vast quantities of fossil fuels (coal, oil,
gasoline) on Earth for energy is increasing average global
temperatures due to the greenhouse effect. Studies show Earth's air,
land and water temperatures are rising, at rates some scientists say
are alarming, greatly exceeding the more conservative predictions made
only a few years ago.
Many scientists throughout the world are saying it is urgent that
worldwide actions be undertaken, immediately, to curb, and reduce
(some say by 80%!), the increasing quantities of greenhouse gas
emissions. Moreover, many scientists concede the potential for
worldwide cataclysmic calamity related to global warming is possible,
not just in eons, but in centuries and perhaps even decades!
To this call for urgency, the global warming "skeptics" continue to
demand proof. Before the skeptics (who's numbers are dwindling
rapidly) agree fossil fuel burning should be cut, they want to see
proof global warming is occurring, that fossil fuel burning is the
main cause of it, and that the costs of increasing global warming
exceed the costs of slowing it down.
Scientists claim the buffering characteristics of Earth's natural
resources (cool oceans and permafrost store carbon), which have
historically kept Earth's atmospheric gases in check, could ultimately
become unbalanced by global warming, increasing the potential for a
"runaway greenhouse effect" to occur on Earth. If a runaway greenhouse
effect got started on Earth, Earth's surface temperatures could
increase dramatically. Grinspoon (1997) speculates this could have
been what happened to Earth's twin planet, Venus, which now has an
average surface temperature of 864 degrees, Fahrenheit (water boils at
212 degrees F.; steak broils at 550 degrees F.).
Grinspoon claims the temperature on Venus is much higher than it
should be, relative to the planet's mass and distance from the Sun,
and that the reason for the hotness is that Venus experienced a
runaway greenhouse effect early in its existence:
"That brings us to the question of water. Evolutionary models suggest
that if Venus started out with an ocean of water, it could have been
lost early in the planet's history by a "runaway greenhouse effect".
Water vapor is a powerful infrared absorber. A little water in the air
can heat things up a lot. But in the presence of liquid water, if the
air gets hotter, more water will evaporate. This creates the
possibility of a powerful positive feedback loop: evaporating water
increases the greenhouse effect, making the atmosphere so hot that
more water evaporates, and so on. Any physical system like that,
dominated by positive feedback, is inherently unstable. Once it gets
going, there is no stopping it. Venus may have had oceans that simply
boiled away, leaving large amounts of water vapor high in the
atmosphere where solar ultraviolet radiation split up the molecules,
allowing the hydrogen to escape into space" (pg. 149).
A Call for Action
When it comes to the long-term sustainability of our planet, it's much
better to be conservatively safe, than deeply sorry. Being "deeply
sorry", when Earth's populous might have done something to change a
final negative outcome is not only being insincere, but even worse:
unconcerned and callous.
Necessity now demands everyone accept responsibility for making energy
conserving sacrifices, right away. Greenhouse gases accumulate in the
Earth's atmosphere, over time. Therefore, they remain in the Earth's
atmosphere long after the time of their release, warming the planet
for those who had nothing to do with their release.
Due to recent (since mid 19th century) and an ever increasing reliance
on fossil fuel burning by humans, the Earth's atmosphere has become
more saturated with carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The
concentration of CO2 in the Earth's atmosphere has gone from a
preindustrial level of 280 parts per million (ppm) to a present day
level of 365 ppm+ (and increase of 30%+ over preindustrial levels).
The current concentration level of CO2 in the atmosphere is already
outside the bounds of natural variability seen in the climate record
of the last 160,000 years. "If the world proceeds on a "business as
usual" path, atmospheric CO2 concentrations will likely become more
than 700 PPM (an increase of 150% over preindustrial levels) by 2100,
and they will still be rising." (Executive Office of the President,
The balance between the Earth's greenhouse and non-greenhouse gas
concentrations has clearly been thrown out of kilter in the last 150
years. This imbalance is likely to grow significantly larger over
time. Even in the very unlikely event that increases in greenhouse gas
emissions from human activity cease, the concentration levels of
greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will continue to increase, since
there remains no other place for them to go.
And, now, with the world's population having doubled since 1960, and
expected to increase to 9 billion (by 2054 - Table 14), the potential
for reducing - let alone slowing - annual global greenhouse gas
emissions, and therefore global warming, has become exceedingly
Scientists the world over are now claiming, with increasingly serious
overtones, that major and significant worldwide action must be
initiated, now, to reduce the volumes of greenhouse gases being
injected into the Earth's atmosphere. To do so will require a dramatic
and abrupt change in humankind reliance on fossil fuel burning.
To be unresponsive to the now almost unanimous scientific community
call for immediate (not 15 years from now), and drastic (not just
slowing the rate of increase) is not prudent. For the world's
population to dramatically increase fossil fuel burning and greenhouse
gas emissions, with minimal attempts being made to conserve energy in
travel, recreational and home energy use, is tantamount to global
In conclusion, the time is now already overripe to drastically cut
energy use in homes, cars, planes, trains and trucks. This paper
offers an approach to accomplishing that, devoid of instituting
regulatory controls over people's everyday lives.
Governmental officials should, without delay, create programs that
offer financial incentives to the public to encourage environmental
conservation and minimize greenhouse gas emissions. Nonessential and
all recreational uses of energy derived from the combustion of fossil
fuels should be greatly reduced, starting immediately, so that the
Earth's environment continues to remain habitable, indefinitely, by
all forms of life.
I wish to credit my brother, Patrick J. Neuman, for his careful review
of this paper throughout its many iterations of development, and to
thank him for his personal support as well, without of which this
paper would not have been completed.
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TO ACCESS APPENDIX A, PLEASE CLICK "FILES", LEFT COLUMN
Appendix A: Tables
Appendix B: Transportation, Home and Recreation Energy Conservation
Energy Using Transportation Reduction Measures
1. Take vacations near home.
2. When you must drive to get necessities, plan errands to minimize
driving. Plan shopping so you can get all your groceries in one week.
3. Buy a fuel-efficient car. Better yet, buy a bike - and use it
regularly, or wake or take a bus when it is important that you travel
4. Move closer in to where you normally must travel to, so you can
either bike safely or walk more places more often.
5. Don't move far away from your family if you are close to them, so
you don't have to fly in during holidays to see them every year. Or if
you are far away from them, consider moving back to where they are.
6. Buy liquids in condensed forms when possible. It saves room in the
refrigerator, and limits the amount of trips necessary to the grocery
7. Avoid purchasing products such as bottled water, beer, pop, liquor
and other commodities in non-recyclable plastic containers. Not only
is excess energy burned in transporting the water in those products to
the grocery store, but there is also energy burned in producing the
plastic containers for these products, and in transporting and
disposing of the containers.
Conserving Energy in the Home: Lighting and Windows
Install screw-in fluorescent bulbs (compact fluorescent), where
Replace two 60-watt incandescent bulbs with one 100-watt bulb (same
amount of light).
Clean light fixtures (dirt reduces light output).
Turn off lights in parts of the house not in use.
Limit number, number of days used, and duration of operation of
Long-life incandescence is less efficient than standard incandescence.
Use "task lights" to provide light where you need it; reduce
background light levels.
Chose light colored rooms and ceilings over dark colored ones; white
ceilings reflect light back into room.
Use natural daylighting; one 3' by 5 ` window can let in more light
than 100 standard 60-what bulbs.
Organize rooms for maximum use of daylighting to reduce need for
Ways to improve the energy saving potential of older windows include
caulking, weather-stripping, replacing sashes and re-glazing.
Increasing the number of "glazings" (layers of glass) increases the
energy saving potential.
Adding plastic film to the outside of windows, or insulated window
coverings to the inside of windows, increase the energy saving
New windows should have at least an R-3 insulating value.
Awnings, overhangs and sunscreens reduce summer heat gain through
windows by up to 90 percent, while still letting in light. Drapes left
open around windows where the sun shines into homes (south and
west-facing side of house) can make air conditioners work 2 to 3 times
Shut air conditioning vents and close doors in areas not in use, or
Change air conditioner and furnace filters when dirty. Turn off lights
when not needed for considerable length of time (longer period okay
for florescent lights, but turn off overnight).
Conserving Energy in the Home: Remodeling and Building Decisions
Make sure there is sufficient levels of insulation: at least R-44 in
roof or attic; R-23 in outside facing walls; R-19 in box sill; and
R-10 around foundation.
Install a continuous air infiltration barrier.
Design rooms to take advantage of daylighting.
Install energy efficient fluorescent light fixtures, where possible.
Build vestibules for outside doors. Install high efficiency condensing
furnace with outside combustion air and exhaust.
Select an insulated outside door of R-5 or greater.
Choose low-E glass for the windows.
When landscaping, consider planting trees to shade house in summer,
and to serve as windbreaks (especially north side of house) in winter.
[Trees also sequester carbon dioxide, a "greenhouse gas", from of the
Choose an appropriately sized home for the number of persons who
will live in the home 12 months out of the year. Avoid building and
buying a home much larger than needed for the residents to live
Avoid building and buying a home on a much larger sized lot than is
needed by the persons who plan to live in the home. More energy will
be required to maintain the property (cut lawn, bushes, etc.); and the
placement of numerous homes on large lots ultimately contributes to
unnecessary and energy inefficient "sprawling out" of neighborhoods,
cities and villages.
Conserving Energy in the Home: Appliances and Heating/Air Conditioning
When (or before) hot water heater needs replacing, install a natural
gas water heater with an energy factor of greater than 0.58.
When (or before) furnace needs replacing, install high efficiency
condensing furnace with outside combustion air and exhaust.
When (or before) appliances need replacing, purchase (or ask landlord
to purchase) high efficiency appliances.
When (or before) air conditioner needs replacing, install a high
efficiency air conditioner (if air conditioning considered necessary).
When washing clothes, wash dark and colored clothes in cold water (to
avoid using energy for heating the water).
When drying clothes, line dry them to avoid using the energy in drying
them in the dryer.
When conditioning the air, use portable, ceiling and/or whole house
attic fans for cooling over air conditioning, whenever possible. Less
electricity is used in operating fans.
Insulate water heater, insulate pipes, install low-flow shower head,
set water heater temperature at 120 degrees F.
In summer, do not run the air conditioner when no one is at home, and
when someone is home, run the air conditioner only when necessary and
turn it off completely on cooler nights.
In winter: keep the thermostat below 60 degrees F. when you are no one
is home, and turn it down for nighttime hours. Make sure all the
windows and doors are sealed, and cover the air conditioner with
plastic or remove it from the window completely. Wear sweaters to
allow for lower comfortable temperature settings during the daytime
Participate Only in Low-Energy Consuming Recreational Activities
1. Choose recreational activities that do not rely heavily on burning
of fossil fuels or electricity consumption. If one want to be truly
energy wise and slow global warming for everyone, the following
heavily energy depended recreational activities should be avoided
completely: snowmobiling (for recreation purposes); all terrain
vehicle riding; motor boating; jet skiing; motorcycle riding;
recreational flying; going on heavily energy using carnival rides.
2. Avoid participation in activities or sports that require lots of
travel. If travel is required, it is usually more efficient to travel
by bus or train, then to fly or take personal transportation. If
personal transportation is required, coordinate rides to insure the
minimum number of vehicles are taken to any recreational event.
Do not cater to events or festivities that burn large amount of energy
for primarily enjoyment viewing. Examples of these activities include
auto racing, motorcycle racing, boat racing, airplane shows, tractor
pulls and fireworks displays.
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