Eco Friendly Thoughts, Opinions And Confessions Of A Scientist
by Howie M.
(Portland, Oregon, US)
I am very aware of the environmental challenges we face globally. However, I am skeptical of the hyper-radical approach that many are touting as the answer or solution to the problem.
As a scientist, I like to think things through (in a reasonable time frame) before acting on them. I get very concerned when someone notes that, "we HAVE TO DO something or else the world will end" or that, "we can study them forever before doing anything."
The recent controversy over "global warming" or "climate change" is perhaps the prime example. Proponents note that we have to act "at all costs" to save Planet Earth. Yet, cap and trade doesn't stop the carbon emissions, it just reallocates where they are allowed.
Instead, I am watching others (and myself) take simple earth friendly actions that almost always have some economic benefit, without making choices that have negative or unintended consequences.
For example, my wife and I go out of our way to recycle plastics and papers. My City provides separate pickup bins and we diligently sort our recyclables and place them curbside weekly. This includes trash items from our small business that we bring home to recycle.
We use ceiling fans (and open windows) in the less humid months whenever we can. The energy savings are dramatic and we sacrifice little in comfort.
During the warm and humid season, our programmable thermostats help us control energy usage. We can set temperatures higher while we are at work, but still arrive home to a comfortable home at dinnertime.
And speaking about dinner, in the warmer months, we often cook on our patio gas grill rather than use electricity indoors and heat up our home. Besides, grilled food is healthier than the fried options.
Recently, we started to unplug our cell phone chargers and other "parasite" devices to avoid the "phantom" energy loss.
We have filled both of our cars tires with nitrogen, which has led to about a 20 percent mileage improvement. The cost to get the tires filled with nitrogen was small compared to the energy savings. We were also told that our tires would last longer. That lowers carbon emissions at the manufacturing end and reduces the number of tires that have to be disposed of later on.
And when we make trips to the stores, we almost always map out a route that minimizes travel and still gets us to the supermarket as the last stop. After all, we don't want the ice cream to melt.
But we don't just do things because they are eco-friendly. For example, we know that we should discard fluorescent bulbs at the local City landfill site. Here they have special areas for disposing of various items that could be environmentally harmful. And even in small amounts, fluorescent bulbs of all types still contain a little mercury.
Recently, one of our friends took two fluorescent bulbs to the landfill to dispose of them properly. That was a good thing. But driving to the site used a full gallon of gasoline. That was not.
That's why I note that being environmentally friendly is important, but requires that we think about all aspects of what we do. Then, and only then, can we make intelligent eco friendly choices that do more good than unintended harm.
The Not-So-Mad Scientist