Monday, September 17, 2007

Day Seventy-Four - 90% Rules

Taking On A Challenge I Don't Think I Can Meet

Even though I've decreased the amount of time my laptop is plugged in, I still manage to find time to search out interesting eco-blogs and other like-minded folks online. One that I stumbled across this week was the Riot for Austerity which offers an interesting challenge to those of us who are attempting to reduce our ecological impact. It asks those who sign up to reduce their emissions to 90% of what the Average American uses, within one year.

The 90% figure is borrowed from George Monbiot's plan to avoid reaching a tipping point, beyond which temperature rise will run out of control and major ecosystems will collapse. In Monbiot's book, "Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning" he has presents his views on how to avert this disaster. To avoid hitting the "critical threshold", he says, the world’s total carbon emissions must be reduced to 60 percent below current levels by 2030—a target that would require the developed world (that's you and me, friend) to reduce emissions by 90 percent, in order to compensate for growth in China, India and other developing countries.

In the "Challenge", there are seven basic categories for reduction and they are:

1. Gasoline
2. Electricity
3. Heating and Cooking Energy
4. Garbage
5. Water
6. Consumer Goods
7. Food

There are, of course, a lot of rules on how to calculate your savings, so that we all measure our success with the same yardstick. You can check out all the rules, averages and factoids here. Now, I know that I most likely will not be able to hit the 90% goal in any, much less all, seven categories, which, according to Austerity Rules, would put me on par with the emissions of a Chinese Peasant. However, I am going to try my damndest to see just how low I can go.

Why take on a challenge that I'm pretty sure I cannot meet? Because by striving to achieve the impossible, I will no doubt reach further than I would have, had I been grasping for a lesser goal.

So, what do you think? You up for it? Are you "in the game"? Think you can do it? Huh? Huh? HUH? To quote GOB Bluth "CO-CA-CAW! CO-CA-CAW! CO-CA-CAW!" (Note to Readers: If you're not familiar with Arrested Development, here is where you would picture someone doing a very poor "chicken" dance).

Well, if nothing else, check out the rules to see what the average American uses and compare it with your current usage. Are you doing your part to lower those averages or are you a consumer whose consumption bumps them up?


Well, duh, 90% -- if I can do it! Less if I fail. But here's the cool part: even if I fail the challenge, I still succeed at reducing those averages! :-) Besides, it's not like they can flunk me and I'll get kicked off the planet.... can they?

Difficulty Level 5 out of 5

This will be the biggest challenge I will undertake and it will take me a full 365 days to find out if I have succeeded. It is basically the culmination of all the changes I've made, and have yet to make. But now it's more like a competition -- which makes it even more fun! I'm already on Day 74 and I know I've made a dent already, I guess we'll find out some time next summer how I measure up.

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