What if Earth = Garden of Eden?

The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch 1485

The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch 1485.

No matter what your religion of choice, most people have heard the story of Adam and Eve being banished from the Garden of Eden. What if all of earth is really a Garden of Eden? I was thinking about how the earth provides food, nourishment and shelter to every living thing on the planet. And, as plants and animals die they release their nutrients back into the earth to be reused. Only humans embalm their dead with chemicals, or cremate them – both of which are toxic to the earth. (Seattle started an Urban Death Project that buries people in the soil to decompose without chemicals, which is more instep with the natural world.)

And, if you’re thinking, the earth didn’t provide any shelter for humans, it did provide trees, mud, straw, stones and other naturally occurring materials, materials, which would eventually decompose and return to the earth. But, now we create cities with almost no permeable surfaces, almost no organic matter. Roads abut sidewalks which abut buildings. When rain falls instead of benefiting plants and trees, or being absorbed and filtered by earth as it moves to aquifers, streams or larger bodies of water, it runs off cement or pavement carrying oil, gas, and other toxins into waterways poisoning or killing nearshore marine life. Some cities are starting to include rain gardens to give runoff a place to enter the earth, it’s a good first step.

birdThis whole train of thought was kicked off by this image of a bird building it’s nest in a man-made structure (left) — a tree equivalent. Nature is adaptive, to a point. Plants and animals take in the world as they always have – expecting tree-like structures to be safe to make nests in, and expecting their surroundings to provide food not plastic and trash that looks like food.

Chris Jordan Midway Movie

Chris Jordan Midway Movie

That made me think of Chris Jordan’s Midway project, which should be out this year. Watch the trailer. It clearly shows what humanity is unwittingly, and probably unintentionally doing to the natural world. Midway is a North Pacific island that is a nesting place for more than ten species of birds, most notably albatross.

Leo DiCaprio tries to make sense of what we’re doing to the earth in his movie Before the Flood. He didn’t spend much time on it, but I was fascinated with the painting, The Garden of Earthly Delights (at the top of the post), which hung over his bed as a child. It was painted more than 500 years ago and depicts humans ruining the natural world.

Would we treat the earth differently if we saw it as the paradise it is instead of something to be monetized?

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Your Choice Has Power

YourChoiceHasPowerSupply and demand. The heart of our capitalist system. On one hand it’s great: our purchasing power can help to change the marketplace for the better. On the other hand: government regulations can interrupt our leverage as consumers.

The image on the left is a slightly modified Eileen Fisher ad. The original ad asks customers to buy clothes that are responsibly made and change the way business is done one purchase at a time.

Wouldn’t it be great if we had a choice of electricity providers? But, we don’t.

Electric utilities are often natural monopolies due to the expense to build and maintain the infrastructure currently used to produce and deliver electricity. Investor owned utilities (IOU), such as Puget Sound Energy (PSE), are beholden to their shareholders. IOUs are unchallenged monopolies, not held in check by normal market forces and that is why utility commissions regulate them. In Washington, the Washington Utility and Transportation Commission (UTC),  a 3-person commission, regulates approximately 8,000 utilities and carriers.

By comparison, a public utility doesn’t need to be regulated by the UTC as their ratepayers are involved and provide oversight and direction thanks to legally mandated transparency.  Public input is one big difference between public and private utilities. State laws regulate local municipal utilities through requirements for open public records, advance public notice, and public meetings.

PSE is the electricity vendor for Bainbridge Island. The city has a nonexclusive contract with them. We can’t change vendors to get off of fossil-fuel-generated electricity or become a public power utility without working with the local government. The Friends of Island Power (IP) campaign is working to educate the public about the benefits of public power and to see if the measure can get on a ballot in the future.

Currently, the island is getting a lot of attention from PSE. Their Vice President, Customer Operations and Communications has said in meetings: we hear you Bainbridge – you want greener, more reliable power.

Yes, that’s right, many islanders want greener, more reliable power. But, make no mistake about it, the only reason we have PSE’s ear is because Island Power has been running a campaign for more than two years threatening their business on Bainbridge, which is estimated at about $20,000,000 annually. PSE does not normally have town halls to answer ratepayer questions, especially not town halls led by the Vice President of Customer Operations and Communications at Puget Sound Energy.

A Benefit of Public Power
PSE’s campaign to remain our electricity provider has focused some people on the initial cost of buying the infrastructure and starting up an electric utility business on Bainbridge.  While diverting people’s attention away from the fact that the money going to PSE each year would be part of our economy on the island instead. One benefit of public power is that an increase in electric vehicles would benefit our economy if we ran our own electric utility. (Watch a video of JJ McCoy, Senior Policy Associate, NW Energy Coalition, Seattle WA talk about the Benefits to Public Power from Local Transportation Electrification.)

A Benefit of Local Control
Did your electric bill go up this winter?

High bills? PSE suggests turning your thermostat down.

High bills? PSE suggests turning your thermostat down.

While PSE suggests you make home improvements or just turn your thermostat back to keep utility bills low (see graphic), Clark’s utility’s board of commissioners approved a plan that distributes about $10 million of 2016 surplus funds back to customers.

Clark Public Utility is giving customers a one-time credit on their March bill to help ease the financial strain caused by this especially cold winter.

“Long stretches of freezing temperatures took a toll in Clark County and we saw electric usage increase dramatically,” Clark Public Utilities Board of Commissioners president Jane Van Dyke said in a news release. “Staff came to the board and suggested using a portion of 2016 surplus revenue to help customers with these high bills.”

Not every public electric utility has a surplus, but every public utility has legally mandated transparency. That means that ratepayers are part of the process – every process and have a say in how their utility is run.

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PSE Island

feasiblity study, COBI, Bainbridge, public power, power, Review, Bainbridge Review, PSE, puget sound energy

PSE ads wrap around The Bainbridge Island Review. Influencing editorial? Review does not support the public power feasibility study by the Bainbridge City Council.

Welcome to Bainbridge Puget Sound Energy (PSE) Island. Its like Safeco Field or any other company-paid entity. You might not have noticed, because Madge, “you’re soaking in it.” It’s all around us like the Matrix. Oh, speaking of all around us. Look at how the PSE ads wrap around The Bainbridge Island Review like a tasty sandwich (above). And, no surprise that the editorial opinion piece about the public power feasibility study is siding with PSE: “Study Won’t Win Hearts or Minds.” So shocking! Not really. We’ve been bought.

Harbour Pub, biodigester, PSE

PSE Logo on Harbour Pub menu.

Speaking of tasty sandwiches, PSE’s logo is now on the Harbour Pub’s menu explaining how they have helped to install a biodigester at the Pub. The biodigester outputs about 90 percent fertilizer and 10 percent gas for electricity or boiling water. (PSE is paying the lease on it.)

PSE  has a full page ad in the latest issue of Park & Recreation District catalog featuring the biodigester.

PSE, free swim, swim, aquatic center, outage, sponsored swim

PSE sponsored “free” swim canceled due to a power outage – ouch!

Speaking of Parks and Rec, PSE even sponsored a FREE swim last November, when anyone could come to the pool and swim without paying the entrance fee. They had to reschedule due to a power outage. Oops.

Some days it just feels like Thurston County all over again! PSE will spend whatever it takes to buy public opinion: Under the Radar: How a Multinational Corporation Quietly Bought a County-Wide Election

Actions Speak Louder than Advertising

PSE runs ads in all the local papers: The Bainbridge Review (digial and print), the Bainbridge Islander, 98110, and the Kitsap Business Journal (back cover). They started running ads right after Friends of Island Power announced their campaign in May 2015.

Before you start thinking they’re a benevolent corporation that likes to spend its free time spreading money around our community ($14,000 to the Downtown Assoc.) in the form of BBQ giveaways, door prizes and refreshments, look where they’re really putting their money:

Their parent company as of 2007, Macquarie Bank, has fossil fuel projects that range from fracking in the UK to opencast coal mining in Australia. Its hard to imagine PSE is really a friend of the environment. However, they have gotten friendly with our community.

Smiling Faces Sometimes…

PSE employees are on the board of the Chamber of Commerce, they had an employee on the board of Sustainable Bainbridge for years. And, of course they have employees at the following meetings at City Hall: City Council, Utility Advisory Committee, Comprehensive Planning, and Planning Commission. Enmeshed, friendly, but do they have our best interests at heart? Or, do we live on a company island?




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Don’t Blame Me if You Get Addicted…

Dress from Sash Mercantile on Bainbridge. Curated used clothing.

Dress from Sash Mercantile on Bainbridge – so fun it made me get up on stage. Curated used clothing.

Something big is happening here..and even though you’re part of the change…its so subtle you may not have noticed…allow me:

In 2007 Annie Leonard outlined, with a sense of humor, how we are systematically consuming and polluting the earth’s resources in her Story of Stuff. It made us think. It made us feel badly for buying that cheap alarm clock without thinking. We recycled, and felt a little bad about shopping, but nothing much changed. 

In 2012 Macklemore’s song Thrift Shop, topped the charts and we were all gamely going through heaps of sometimes ripe-smelling clothes. That said, no matter how dedicated of an environmentalist you are, shopping at a thrift store comes with a stigma that even Macklemore’s hipness couldn’t overcome. Who needs that? Not me.

Maria Kondo inspired drawer.

Maria Kondo inspired drawer.

Then in 2014 we learned how to get our house in order and really get rid of stuff. Maybe you tried folding your clothes Marie Kondo style (there’s a video). Or, maybe you read her entire book and are now left with only things that spark joy. With all of that joy sparking holes can appear in a girl’s wardrobe, so some shopping is generally required. *Sigh*

In the same year specialty used clothing stores started to emerge, such as Sash Mercantile on Bainbridge Island. Unlike the heap-of-clothing thrift stores of yore, the owners of this store are clothing curators. They work hard to find unique, fun clothes and the clothes are displayed with the same care as new clothes in any other boutique.

ThredUp Clean Out Bag - genius!

ThredUp Clean Out Bag – genius!

Ok, so it started in 2009, but let’s face it, it didn’t really get going until last year. Real change came about with ThredUp.com. Why a real change? Its so subtle, its genius. Basically, it changes our relationship with clothes, ownership, recycling, and money. Oh, and its fun. It does this by offering used clothing online. I know Goodwill has been doing this for years, but I think its ThredUp’s  merchandise presentation and touch points that make the difference. ThredUp gets the following things right and has disrupted the clothing industry by:

  • Only taking/selling clothes from the last five years.
  • Having curators who pick only the best clothes to sell.
  • Making clothing donation easy and giving customers a credit to buy more used clothes.
  • Having a very searchable site with good photos and descriptive information for fewer returns.
  • Making returns easy, and using reusable packaging.
  • Giving an option for credit easy when sending clothes to sell or sending clothes back.
  • Having a great interface not only on their website, email blasts, Facebook posts, but also carrying the look and feel through their packaging and clean-out bag.
  • Making purchasing super easy online.
  • Cleaning clothes before they ship – no used-clothing smell.
  • Oh, having a clean-out bag that they send for you to fill up and send back – sweet!

Bottomline – they are normalizing the used-clothing business. That is truly disruptive.

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Reduce Your Pet’s Carbon Paw Prints

A while back, I posted an article discussing a few ways that pet owners can reduce the carbon paw prints of their dogs – an article that was inspired by my friend Teri that was wondering what to do with dog poop after it’s picked up and put in a bag.

Building up on that article, here’s a very interesting info-graphic I found on Ultimate Home Lifethat discusses 14 practices every dog owner can easily incorporate – if they want to limit their dog’s carbon paw prints to the greatest extent.

A few of the tips I mentioned originally were using biodegradable bags to pick up after your dog’s poop, bringing home a rescued dog from a shelter and a few pointers you should know about concerning the food your dog eats – all of which are discussed in detail (and with some interesting statistics, might I add) in the info-graphic below.

I love tip #10 – we now reuse and donate our clothes, why not do that for our four-legged friends as well?


So, there we have it!

Any thoughts?

What are your experiences with any of these tips about reducing the carbon paw prints of your dog?

And, if you’ve got any tips of your own that weren’t mentioned in this illustration, make yourself heard and share them in the comments section below!

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Climate Change is Calling…Anyone Picking up?


Climate change is calling…anyone picking up?

The City of Bainbridge Island Council’s discussions about public power and climate change represent a microcosm of what is being played out around the world. We’re like a Petri dish. A community experiment. Although we’re not your average participants as Bainbridge Island is known for having more than its fair share of scholars and environmental stewards.

However, corporate bullying from our current electric utility in the form of well-placed money (Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Business Association, as well as push-polling, ads, events, possible funding of candidates, etc.) has created an atmosphere of fear in the hopes of paralyzing the city government from taking action on one of the most defining issues of our time – climate change.

How can a city help to mitigate climate change? Many scientists along with the EPA list fossil-fuel generated energy as one of the nation’s leading causes of CO2 emissions, the primary cause of climate change and global warming. So, if the city could buy electricity that doesn’t emit as much carbon or pollution as fossil fuel generated electricity that could lower the entire island’s carbon footprint. What’s a city to do? Start its own electric utility? Sounds complex. Thankfully, we wouldn’t be reinventing the wheel, there are 62 other public power entities in WA alone, most get their power from the Bonneville Power Administration, where the Island Power initiative is suggesting Bainbridge Island get its power.

Whether we get on board or not, we’re in the middle of an industry shift. The energy industry is changing for the better but its fighting that change every step of the way. In my lifetime I’ve seen a number of radical industry shifts, you probably have too. Here are a few that have impacted my working life:

  • Pre-press and typesetting industry segued into desktop publishing. Aldus then Adobe software were disruptive technologies and changed how we work.
  • Film and photography labs disappeared with the advent of digital photography.
  • Digital cameras have felt the pressure of a camera in every cell phone.
  • Landline telephone use is declining as cellphone coverage and reliability increase.
  • Use of printed maps have declined as GPS is readily available on cell phones.

Climate change will be completely disruptive to the energy industry if we decide to live more lightly on the planet.

Where is your money going? You might be surprised at how much coal-generated electricity Bainbridge Island buys each year. The average kilowatt hour (kWh) per year per house is about 15,000 and slightly more than half of that comes from fossil fuels, about one third from coal-generated electricity. In 2015 15,000 kWH cost about $1400/yr. So about $466, almost $500/yr to coal-generated electricity. If we multiply that times the number of households (9,709) we get about $4.5 million spent on coal-generated electricity a year – just for residences – that number does not include businesses.

In a capitalist society, what is our real leverage? Money and how we spend it, or don’t spend it. Most people want to live more lightly on the planet but changing light bulbs and recycling are not enough. We need to make system-wide changes to mitigate climate change — systems that people use daily. With cleaner energy, for example, people can continue to charge their devices, keep the refrigerator running and flick on the lights with substantially less of a negative impact on the earth and our environment.

System-wide changes need to be made through our political system. Our electricity vendor for Bainbridge is Puget Sound Energy (PSE). The city has a nonexclusive contract with them. We can’t change vendors (they are a monopoly) or buy our own power without going through the local government to change the contract. Politics is messy. It’s not as straightforward as bringing an idea to the local government for a discussion and a vote. In Nov 2015 the City Council voted to educate themselves and the community about public power before putting anything on the ballot. The city manager put together a task force to write a Request for Proposal then to interview the consulting firms who replied. They selected the consulting firm. The city manager brought the recommendation to the council in May. It was sent back to the task force for more consideration. Tuesday night (July 12th) there will be a vote on that study, whether to move forward with it or not.

Will the city council be bold and brave enough to take the first step toward cleaner energy? What if our grid was filled with carbon-neutral electricity? What if our cars were fueled by hydro power? What if airplanes were fueled by plants? (Alaska Airlines is starting to use biofuels!!) Are we the environmental stewards we think we are or will fear rule the day? We’ll find out Tuesday.

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The Fox is in the Hen House …

Puget Sound Energy is in the house.

Puget Sound Energy is in the house.

… and, being offered tea.

Fox: [in a velvety baritone voice] “I’m just here to help you keep the eggs warm. You know if the eggs aren’t warm they might DIE.

Hens: [clucking to each other] “You know that nice fox is right, if the eggs aren’t warm they’ll DIE.” [Completely forgetting that they can keep the eggs warm.]

Fox: “Move over and let my big, warm, comforting, bushy tail keep those eggs warm for you.”

Hens: [cluck approval] “We do have a lot of other things we want to do.” [Hens move off of eggs and run out to get tea.]

This is what I’m witnessing firsthand at the City of Bainbridge Island. Only instead of a fox we have Puget Sound Energy (PSE) representatives and instead of hens we have council members who are slowly getting lulled into giving up their power and taking comfort in the big, cozy, comforting, corporation. They’ll take care of us. They’re just here to help. Lie back, close your eyes….

Ever since we started our initiative, Island Power, in January of 2015, PSE has been completely enmeshed in our political process. PSE reps are a constant presence at:

  • council,
  • planning commission
  • utility advisory committee, and, even,
  • comp plan meetings, to name a few.

Their presence is subtly intimidating – it’s hard to speak freely with PSE reps actually sitting at the table as they were during the last planning commission meeting I attended. They represent a large corporation and corporate interests. Why are they in meetings as if they were islanders? Because they are protecting their interests – not ours.

Their GOAL is to prevent our measure from EVER getting on the ballot. [They tell the council to forgo putting it on the ballot so they won't have to suffer from a no vote. Wow! This logic is crazy good. "We're just trying to save you from your own mistakes." And, the council is starting to listen.]

We need to ask ourselves – who has our best interests at heart? Fellow Bainbridge Islanders who have NOTHING to gain from this going forward other than almost 100% carbon-free electricity coursing through our grid and using our leverage as ratepayers to stop buying coal-generated electricity or a large corporation that stands to lose more than $20 million dollars annually, and which will continue to use coal-generated electricity?

It is some magic trick that they are diverting everyone’s attention to the one-time cost of buying out the current system instead of the millions of dollar$ PSE stands to lose every year if we run our own electric utility. That’s what really matters to them. In Jefferson County about $33 million dollars left the county every year to pay PSE for power, now almost a third of that stays in the county in new jobs. We have a lot to gain by running our own electric utility: greener power, local control of our energy sources and community incentives, new living-wage jobs, and reliable power.

Climate Change is Still Happening
Carbon emission from coal-generated electricity is one of the nation’s top contributors to climate change, which is acidifying the oceans, killing coral and its intricate ecosystems, and forage fish, a food chain foundation, warming waters and killing salmon (salmon fishing was just closed for the season in the NW), orcas depend on salmon – it’s called a life cycle for a reason. Climate change is impacting all life cycles. Plus, feedback loops on land and in the water are speeding up the process.

For all want-to-be activists out there: I have learned a lot. Before I take on any political campaign in the future, I’m going to build a financial and volunteer war chest. (PSE started advertising in local papers, and polling right after we had our first public meeting in May 2015.) Second, I’m going to hire a political consultant/company and poll people in the community to build my messaging based on the response to polling. Then meet with political officials with my polling information to convince them of my position as well as our initiative’s widespread support. [Note to my future self.]

Will the council be out-foxed by Puget Sound Energy? We’ll see.

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How do You Make an Ice Cube from the Sun?

solar van, solar applications, solar camping

Plover cranking out solar amps in northern Canadian Rockies in July. Photo credit: Neil Johannsen.

“Solar power, of course,” said Neil Johannsen,  retired Director of Alaska State Parks, answering his own question.

He asked me that question as I looked at his solar-powered van, Plover, named after a bird. I love that question. That is just the kind of question we should be asking ourselves about everything. How can we do things differently; think about energy differently?

When Neil looks at rooftops be it a car, boat or house, he sees the potential to capture and store energy. He even invented the solar dinghy. And, sold three of them. And, he’s found something that will squeeze just a little more power from your solar panels too, more on that in a bit.

As I sat in Neil’s patio garden, listening to how parking lots and roads could be used to capture solar energy as another way to get our culture off of coal-generated electricity, I saw a bit of magic. The garden water fountain was … solar powered by a tiny panel perched on a second-story railing. The garden shed’s light was … solar powered by something that is so thin and flexible it looks like fabric. Solar fabric. It makes you think, right? What if we had solar sleeves on our jackets to power our devices?

His small-scale solar innovations are constant. The solar panel on his van is so light that once the wing nuts that hold the aluminum frame onto the van are unscrewed, the panel can be placed in the sun while the van is parked in the shade. The panel powers electricity in the van. Neil can watch movies on his laptop and grab a cold beverage while camping without a loud generator spewing exhaust and noise into the wilderness. The solar panel stores enough energy in the battery while driving to power his laptop and refrigerator. Think of it – all your creature comforts powered by the sun.

The sun + panels to capture power + batteries to store power + converters to go from DC to AC power = electricity. That’s a basic equation for solar energy. Neil uses two six-volt golf cart batteries, joined plus to minus, to create one powerful 12-volt battery for his van. The solar panel is a Renogy 100W 12 volts light weight monocrystalline solar panel, but the magic happens with a solar charge controller. Neil uses Renogy 40 Amp Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) Solar Charge Controller. It matches the voltages between the solar panel and the battery resulting in up to 30% more efficient transfer of power, reducing the number of solar panels needed for any application.

Proof that living lighter on the planet doesn’t mean sacrifice – just a little innovation. So, whether you want to keep your devices charged while kayaking, or to heat your van while you’re out in the wilderness, think solar.

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Island Power Moves Forward

What Happened Tuesday October 6th at the City of Bainbridge Island Council Meeting…

Island Power at COBI

Seats emptied as people stood up to speak in support of public power. Ted Jones at the podium.

Bainbridge Island, WA — TEN amazing people stood up and spoke in support of public power including Phil Rockefeller! We crossed the first major hurtle and have shown adequate support for our initiative. The council did not give us a threshold number, but instead asked the City Manager Doug Schulze to create a list of possible items to study and resources needed to see if public power makes sense for Bainbridge, then, if it does, create an ordinance and put it on the ballot. Thanks to everyone who showed up for a late-night council meeting and for all those cheering us on via email and social media.

If you missed the meeting you can view all the speakers here (at about the 2hr mark the comments for public power begin): http://apps.bainbridgewa.gov/media/video/2015/SS_20151006.mp4

As Barry Peters’ succinctly noted:
“There is an opportunity for City Council members who see the importance of clean green power, resisting climate change and supporting a sustainable local economy, family wage jobs and democratic community control, to move the City’s feasibility analysis forward expeditiously so that a City ordinance is ready next year in time to give Bainbridge voters a chance to support this when they turn out massively in the presidential elections of November 2016.

Our friends on City Council who are visionaries in these respects can achieve a legacy by having this study move forward to a City ordinance that is approved by Bainbridge voters during their current term in office, in this 25th year of home rule for Bainbridge Island.”

Hot Off the Presses:
Recent article about our initiative by Inside Bainbridge: Island Power or PSE? Parties Weigh in Before Tonight’s Council Discussion

Mark Your Calendar:

  • Tuesday Oct 27th 7pm at the City of Bainbridge Island
    - Island Power to deliver over 1,000 signatures in support of public power to the council. Thank you to all of our exceptional signature gatherers: Ted Jones, Jaco ten Hove, Marie and David Spooner, Marci Burkel, David Mitchell, Tom Goodlin, Jennifer Sampson, Carrie West, Steve Johnson, Jane Lindley, Barry Peters, Randal Samstag, Janet Knox and Barb Trafton.
  • Tuesday Nov 3rd 7pm at the City of Bainbridge Island – During the council meeting Doug Schulze will outline his study and budget to discuss with the council.
Local Power is Better Power!

Cleaner. Locally controlled. Economically beneficial.

Let’s be the generation that takes the first step.

Island Power
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Population over 7 billion – don’t exhale!

Global CO2 continues to rise.

Global CO2 continues to rise

I’m sure everyone who follows Low Carbon Girl’s facebook page saw the Seattle PI article about  National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) report that our global CO2 levels have gone over 400 parts per million. NOAA’s widget (left) resides in this blog’s right-hand sidebar. I’ve watched the numbers quietly rise every month, but now they’re in red and they show no signs of slowing.

“This marks the fact that humans burning fossil fuels have caused global carbon dioxide concentrations to rise more than 120 parts per million since pre-industrial times,” added Tans. “Half of that rise has occurred since 1980.”

Almost three years ago when I started this blog, CO2 levels were at 392.92. I made some observations that I’d like to correct and they point to the even greater importance that we look for alternative energy sources, conserve resources and consume less. Here goes:

CO2 Baseline

The idea that a person should be concerned about the parts per million of CO2 in our atmosphere entered my consciousness four years ago when I read an article about NASA’s James Hansen with the unsavory message that our CO2 was ALREADY beyond safe limits. I figured a rocket scientist would know these things, so I started to worry about CO2 ppm but didn’t know what to do.

I’m pretty sure I read about it in the NYTimes or New Yorker and clipped the article for my Thoughts file, but the link above was one of the online versions I found, see who it’s written by? Bill McKibben! Mr. 350.org himself. And, it looks like, from his byline, that this was before he formed 350.org.

When the article was written, our atmospheric CO2 was 383 ppm. James Hansen’s position was that we need to get our CO2 levels back down to 350 ppm (it’s now at 392.92), kinda heading in the wrong direction.

What is a Human’s Baseline Annual CO2 Emission?
All of this got me thinking, if we’re oxygen breathers, CO2 emitters, what’s the CO2 cost of a human before we do anything at all (like jump in a car, run to the store and buy meat and dairy)? No one really wants to ask that question, right?

One source puts the number between 328.5 kg  and 206.23 kg a year. Most CO2 measurements are in tonnes, not the American ton. What’s the difference you may be asking (and why are we the last ones to use the metric system)? A ton is measurement used exclusively in the US and it is equal to 2,000 lbs. A tonne is equal to 1,000 kg. Here’s where my brain starts to hurt.

Just so you can check my math when I convert the numbers above:

  • there are .45359237 kilograms in a pound
  • 2,000 pounds are equal to 907.18474 kg
  • 1,000 kilograms are equal to 2,204.623 lbs.

We emit  between .33 and .21 tonnes a year or .36 and .23 tons a year. Clearly, just being human isn’t that big of a deal, it’s gotta be burning fossil fuels (like they’ve been saying) that is causing the majority of the problem. Whew!

World population 3:30pm East Coast time May 22nd 2015.

World population 3:30pm East Coast time May 22nd 2015.

I can’t believe I didn’t multiply the number of CO2 a year by the number of people. And, now there are over 7 billion people on the planet – wow!! You can watch numbers spin forward here. Anyway, I took a snapshot (left) and then multiplied the population number with the low end of the CO2 exhaled per person (.23 ton/yr), which equals over a billion and a half tons of CO2 (1,682,834,489.85). So, kind of a lot just for breathing.

As the population grows the need to conserve resources and consume less grows as well.

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