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How to Save the Climate

Our government has only recently acknowledged that global warming is a real threat, but the UK is much more worried than we are, because a change in the flow of the gulf stream, due to melting glaciers which dilute the salinity of the ocean, will change their country's balmy, gentle weather into a climate resembling that of Nova Scotia, which is on the same meridian. Prime Minister Tony Blair has announced 10 ways to save the world, by saving the climate.

You won't read it in US media, but Blair?s speech on "10 ways to save the world today" was reported in detail in the Independent. They are reminiscent of the Canadian prime minister's list of ways that the average person can combat global warming.

Blair's ideas are as follows. Surprisingly, some of them are already in place in the US.

1. SET LEGALLY BINDING ANNUAL CO2 REDUCTION TARGETS?Pass a new law to commit the government to reducing CO2 every year by a fixed amount, perhaps 3%, and have this certified by an independent group. Meanwhile, our government is content to merely trade CO2 emissions.

2. DECENTRALIZE THE ENERGY SUPPLY SYSTEM?Give every city, town and village its own power station. These should be CHP systems, which cut CO2 emissions. Utilities are already decentralized in much of the US.

3. ALL NEW BUILDINGS MUST PROVIDE THEIR OWN POWER?Put a power station in the basement of every new and renovated house and change building codes to make all new buildings provide their own power, with solar panels, mini-wind turbines and CHP systems to soak up wasted heat. The idea is that if we pay directly for utilities, we will use them wisely and purchase energy-efficient versions. This is already in place in parts of the US. For instance, many US apartments have their own water heaters and tenants pay directly for hot water.

4. INSIST ON USE OF ENERGY-EFFICIENT LIGHT BULBS?Blair wants to ban standard light bulbs all over Britain and force us to use energy-saving bulbs instead, which soak up less than a quarter of the electricity. While it's in some ways a symbolic gesture, it would eliminate large amounts of CO2.

5. BOOST NEGLECTED RENEWABLES; SOLAR, WAVE, TIDE POWER?Start giving proper funding and backing to renewable energy sources other than wind: solar power, and power from the waves and tides. These have vast potential to supply CO2-free electricity, yet are underdeveloped.

6. FOCUS AGAIN ON OFFSHORE WIND POWER?Vast wind farms are being built all over the world, including the US, so that's something that we've begun to do, at least.

7. GET RADICAL WITH ENERGY EFFICIENCY?In other words, insulate homes, especially doors and windows. The recent raise in oil prices has inspired owners of homes and condos to replace old windows with double-paned ones.

8. TACKLE THE GAS GUZZLING VEHICLES?The oil shortage and subsequent high prices seem to have done that job for us, since you can't sell even a moderately-sized SUV these days. But our government should have taken a lead long ago in insisting that huge, gas guzzling SUVs be made as energy-efficient and non-polluting as cars. Companies would have come up with the technology, if they were forced to do so.

9. CURB THE GROWTH IN CHEAP FLIGHTS?Blair wants to raise air passenger taxes in order to end the cheap flight bonanza, as CO2 emissions from aircraft go straight into the stratosphere.

10. HAVE A LATE-NIGHT TALK WITH GEORGE BUSH?Do anything you can to get George Bush to change his mind about climate change. The world needs America, the biggest CO2 emitter, to lead the fight against global warming. The President is denying the evidence. In the US that means that during the next presidential election, VOTE for a candidate who takes global warming seriously. If voters insist on tackling this issue in the next election, candidates from BOTH parties will start talking about it.

Art credit: http://www.freeimages.co.uk

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