Global climate change, a local issue

At this point, we have all heard at least some of the discussion about global climate change, and the potential for far reaching, unprecedented impacts on our Earth’s ecological balance. The debate within the scientific community has long since shifted from “Is global climate change occurring?” to “How severe will the impacts be?” and “What results can we expect from given mitigation efforts?”

Our State Legislature sits on the eve of passing House Bill 226, a measure pointed at measuring and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the state. California has recently passed strong new laws in an aggressive campaign to reduce GHG emissions. States in the Northeast on the Mainland have banded together to enact strong emission reduction policies. Our own Mayor, Bryan Baptiste, is one of 471 mayors nationwide who have signed onto the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, which advocates for reducing emissions by 2012 to 7 percent below 1990 levels. Calls for change to address global warming are happening on all levels. However, the place where action is most needed is with you and me. What can we do? Here’s a sample;

? Drive less: Ride the Kaua‘i Bus, ride your bike, walk, carpool. Every mile you drive emits about a pound of carbon dioxide.

? Use less electricity: Change is happening, but on Kaua‘i, electricity use = CO2 emissions, as 90 percent of our electricity still comes from burning fossil fuels. Use compact fluorescent bulbs, get a solar hot water system, get rid of the “2nd fridge,” open the window and turn off the A/C, conserve water, it all helps reduce electricity consumption and related emissions

? Buy local: when you buy something from 2,000 miles away, you’re also buying the energy it took to get it here, and in transportation, energy = emissions. If you want to take this to an extreme, start your own garden. Otherwise, head on over to the Farmer’s Market and support our local farmers.

? Reduce, reuse, and recycle. Why? All that trash takes energy to make, energy to transport, and energy to dispose of. The current alternative being considered by the county is a very expensive ($40m+) toxic waste generating, CO2 emitting incinerator that will indeed have to be located in someone’s back yard. Get on the program with Zero Waste Kaua‘i and send the message that you’re willing to be part of the preferred solution.

? Ask our CO-OP for more “green power” and no “coal power.” The folks over at KIUC are, generally, headed in the right direction, but they are always interested to hear more from their members on where we want them to take us. One program being considered is offering a “green rate” to customers who want to choose clean renewable energy. Interested? Look for a petition of interest, coming soon from www.apollokauai.org

? Spread the word and get informed. Consider joining/helping out with/donating to Apollo Kaua‘i, Zero Waste Kaua‘i, Malama Kaua‘i, the Sierra Club, Surfrider, or other great organizations that are working to bring about positive change for our small island in the middle of the deep blue sea. We all need to stay above water.

? Mark your calendar and attend Apollo Kauai’s “Sustainable Solutions” conference to occur this Oct. 12 to 14 at KCC. We’ve invited smart people from around the islands and around the nation to come to Kaua‘i and help us better understand the challenges of climate change and global resource depletion. Heck, we even invited Al Gore. He just might confirm, so reserve your seats now.

• Ben Sullivan is chairperson of Apollo Kaua‘i.

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