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Conserve, NOW!: Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Other Environme ntal

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  • npat1
    Conserve, NOW!: Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Other Environmental For at Labor & Sustainability Conference Workshops: January 19th-20th, 2007, St.
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 20, 2007

      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."


      "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
      expansion projects.

      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
      consuming electricity
      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
      Transportation (1997).

      Costs of Providing for Increased Automobile Driving in Wisconsin and
      the U.S.

      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
      near crisis".

      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
      expansion projects.

      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
      capacity demands.

      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
      Energy Use

      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
      electricity consumption.

      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
      energy generation.

      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
      of government.

      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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      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
      longer distances.

      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
      holiday/festival lights.

      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
      artificial lighting.

      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
      used infrequently.

      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
      Earth's atmosphere.]

      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.

      --- End ---

    • Mike Neuman
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