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12 steps to reverse climate change

Co-op America has just listed its 12 steps to beat climate change. These are the twelve that they believe can make the difference without creating additional dangers (as in nuclear power) or costing too much. Of course there are many smaller steps each of us can take.

For my part: I own a hybrid with decent fuel economy and I have committed myself to driving it no more than four days a week. I don't know if I am actually reducing the number of miles driven but I think so. By replacing my house, rather than trying to sell it to someone who would live in it or renting it, I will cut way back on wasted energy. This house leaks so much you could strain spaghetti in it.

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1. Increase fuel economy for the world’s 2 billion cars from an average of 30 mpg to 60 mpg.

2. Cut back on driving. Decrease car travel for 2 billion 30-mpg cars from 10,000 to 5,000 miles per year, through increased use of mass transit, telecommuting, and walking and biking.

3. Increase energy efficiency by one-quarter in existing buildings and appliances. Move to zero-emissions plans for new buildings.

4. Decrease tropical deforestation to zero, and double the rate of new tree plantings.

5. Stop soil erosion and encourage local, organic agriculture:  Apply "conservation tillage" techniques to cropland at 10 times the current usage. Choose local, organic food and diets with less meat. 

6. Increase wind power. Add 3 million 1-megawatt windmills, 75 times the current capacity.

7. Push hard for solar power. Add 3,000 gigawatt-peak solar photovoltaic units, 1,000 times current capacity.

8. Increase efficiency of coal plants from an average of 32 percent efficiency to 60 percent, and shut down plants that don’t meet the standard. No net new coal plants; for new plants built, an equal number should close.

9. Replace 1,400 gigawatts of coal with natural gas, a four-fold increase in natural gas usage over current levels — a short-term step until zero-emissions renewable technologies can replace natural gas.

10. Sequester carbon dioxide
at existing coal plants. Sequestration involves storing carbon dioxide underground, an unproven technology that may, nonetheless, be better than nothing.

11. Develop zero-emissions vehicles, including plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles powered by renewable energy.

12. Develop biomass as a short-term replacement for fossil fuel until better carbon-free technologies are developed but only biofuels made from waste, and made without displacing farmland and rainforests.

This framework can help us think big and fast enough to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. If we are to achieve each wedge by 2054, the next 10 years must see major action. Anything less and we’re kidding ourselves.

The good news?  We can do this. We have the technologies and the know-how. We can take many of these steps today, on our own.  For the rest, we need to persuade our elected officials, contact our power companies and auto manufacturers, and demand action from those with decision-making power.  The best news?  Beating climate change opens the door to more jobs, energy security, progress against poverty, a cleaner environment, and a safer world a better future for all of us. 
-from the Co-op America Newsroom



The League of Conservation Voters is on board, with a petition to support the Markey-Platts bill, which would require better fuel economy. Sign it here.

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