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Why QFLEA? From 1999 through 2018, QFLEA.com was the largest virtual flea market on the internet. Now closed, it is time to put our domain name to a new and very necessary purpose. The letters in the name were used to create the new website name, "Quest For Livable Environmental Activism". The name is a little awkward, but the letters fit and therefore our name and website have been "recycled". Quite appropriate for a topic such as this.
The mission of this website and related Twitter account is to provide information to help the average person learn about climate change and about people can do to fight the effects of climate change. This is not a place for debate as there is no debate about climate change. Science tells us that the problem is real, it is happening right now and all we need to address this issue without political ideology.
Climate is not weather! Weather refers to day-to-day conditions of the atmosphere, i.e. maximum temperature, amount of cloud cover, speed and direction of wind, precipitation, etc. Climate describes the average atmospheric conditions over many years, i.e. average annual rainfall, number of days above freezing, weather extremes, etc. Weather can change in just a few hours. Climate takes hundreds or even millions of years to change.
So What Is Climate Change?
Climate change occurs when changes in planetary climate system result in new weather patterns that remain in place for an extended period of time. This length of time can be as short as a few decades to as long as millions of years. For the purpose of this website, we mean global warming, a gradual increase in the overall temperature of our atmosphere generally attributed to the greenhouse effect, which is caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons, and other pollutants.
Why Is This Happening?
Most scientists in the world are in agreement that humans are causing climate change. We drive cars. We heat and cool our homes. We cook food. All those things take energy by burning coal, oil and gas. Burning these things puts gases into the air. The gases cause the air to heat up. This changes the climate of a place, including the Earth.
The long term impact of climate change is what we need to address. Scientists believe temperature on Earth will keep going up for the next 100 years. This would cause more snow and ice to melt. Oceans would rise higher, affecting people living in coastal areas. Some places will get hotter. Other places might have colder winters with more snow. Some places might get more rain. Other places might get less rain. Some places might have stronger hurricanes.
What are the consequences to our life on Earth?
* Heat waves: Heat waves are long periods of time with above-normal temperatures. As the earth warms, more areas will be at risk for hotter and more frequent extreme heat waves. Two little Celsius degrees make a huge difference. That would be 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Ask yourself this. When your temperature is 98.6 degrees, how do you feel? Pretty normal, right? Now add 3.6 and ask yourself how you feel at over 102 degrees? Not so good?
* Heavy Precipitation: Heavy downpours are becoming more common in many locations. Hurricanes, tornadoes and other storms are already becoming stronger and more dangerous. This trend will continue.
* Sea-level rise caused by melting of glaciers and ice sheets: The warming of seas and oceans is also making coastal storms more damaging. Scientists predict sea levels in the United States could rise one to four feet in the 21st century, and could be even higher if glaciers in Greenland or Antarctica melt especially quickly. This will have dire effects on the millions who live in coastal cities around the world.
* Threats to habitats and animals: As temperatures warm, many plants and animals are migrating to higher elevations or away from the equator. Some animals may have difficulty moving or adapting to new habitats. In some cases, it will change food sources and perhaps entire industries. For example, by 2050 warming of the gulf waters off the Maine coast could cut lobster populations up to 62 percent, according to the Gulf of Maine Research Institute.
* Ocean acidification. Extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is absorbed by the oceans, making them more acidic. This can make it difficult for corals and microorganisms that form shells to survive, disrupting the food supply for other sea animals.
* Wildfires. These are large fires that burn vast amounts of forests and brush. When they are not controlled, wildfires can destroy homes and be deadly. The number of large wildfires and the length of the wildfire season have been increasing in recent decades. The loss of trees will exascerbate the efects of climate change. As trees grow, they help stop climate change by removing carbon dioxide from the air, storing carbon in the trees and soil, and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere. Trees provide many benefits to us every day.
* Drought. Global warming will increase the risk of drought in some regions. Severe drought can affect agriculture (affecting livestock and crops, including cornerstone commodities like corn, soybeans, and wheat. At the height of the 2012 drought, the U.S. Department of Agriculture declared a natural disaster over 2,245 counties, 71 percent of the United States), transportation (affecting water levels on rivers of commerce like the Mississippi. Transport barges need at least nine feet of water), and energy (raising concerns about the reliability of electricity production from plants that require cooling water to maintain safe operations. Hydroelectric power may also become unavailable during droughts. When heat waves coincide with droughts, electricity demands can grow, compounding stress on the grid)
* Hunger, Starvation, Famine: The world population is expected be 10 billion by 2050. With 3.4 billion more mouths to feed, and the growing desire of the middle class for meat and dairy in developing countries, global demand for food could increase by between 59 and 98 percent. This means that agriculture around the world needs to step up production and increase yields. But scientists say that the impacts of climate change, such as higher temperatures, extreme weather, drought, increasing levels of carbon dioxide and sea level rise, threaten to decrease the quantity and jeopardize the quality of our food supplies.
Do I have your attention yet?
I hope so.
Where Can I Get Additional Information?
NASA Global Climate Change
United States Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Climate Central
NOAA Climate Education Resources
What can the average citizen do?
So what can the average citizen do? Plenty! Listed below are some of the things that most of us can do. If you are truly interested in working toward going green (see what we did there?) this is your starting point.
Home and Office Energy
Use efficient lighting. Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents (CFLs). They use four times less energy and they last eight times longer. So you not only cut your electricity bills dramatically, you also save money on buying bulbs. Design work spaces around natural light to reduce use of electricity. Use sunlight where you can, including solar water heaters and even solar cookers. For lighting, use batteries that can be charged by solar power. These usable batteries will reduce carbon emissions and save you money.
Replace older appliances with new energy efficient electric models. They use far less electricity for the same functionality and are mostly higher quality products that last longer than less efficient ones. Look for the energy star label when making purchases.
Use an energy efficient computer. Use a laptop instead of a desktop. It consumes five times less electricity. If you buy a desktop, get an LCD screen. Enable the power management function on your computer. (Screensavers do not save energy.) Switching off a computer extends its lifetime, contrary to some misconceptions. Minimize printing and print on both sides of the paper. Laser printers use more electricity than inkjet printers.
Add solar panels to your house. The boom in solar installations will only continue; on the heels of a record year of sales, analysts expect the market to nearly triple by 2020. The Energy Department has a good resource guide for homeowners, while (Google) Project Sunroof helps calculate the potential benefits of home installation.
Get a home energy audit to show how much energy your home consumes and give you tips on changes that can make things more efficient. Most assessments help homeowners save between 5 to 30 percent on their energy bills, and audits can significantly reduce your carbon footprint.
Make sure your home is well insulated and that you caulk around your doors and window.
If your windows are old and leaky, it may be time to replace them with energy-efficient models or to boost their efficiency with weather stripping, caulk and storm windows.
Plant shade trees and shrubs around your house. For an older home with relatively poor insulation and windows, good landscaping (particularly deciduous trees) can save energy, especially if planted on the west side of the house. In summer, the foliage blocks infrared radiation that would warm the house, while in winter the bare branches let this radiation come through.
Improve the efficiency of your hot water system. First, turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120°F). Second, insulate your hot water lines to keep them from cooling off as quickly between uses. Third, use low-flow fixtures for showers and baths.
Wash clothes in cold water. Most people still do laundry in warm water, costing more money and takings a toll on the environment. About 75 percent of the total energy use and greenhouse-gas emissions produced by a single load of laundry come from warming the water itself. Studies show that washing in cold water is just as effective as using warm.
Adjust your thermostat. This year, adjust your thermostat to run one degree cooler in the winter and one degree warmer in the summer. The difference is almost unnoticeable, but the energy savings can be dramatic. Then next year, adjust another degree!
Turn off electronic devices. Simply turning off your television, stereo, computer, fans, lights when you not in use will save carbon dioxide emissions. Unplug computers, TVs and other electronics when not in use.
Hang-dry your clothes instead of using the dryer. There are more than 90 million clothes dryers in the US. If all Americans line-dried for just half a year it would save 3.3 percent of the total residential output of carbon dioxide.
Clean or replace HVAC filters every three months. A dirty filter on your air conditioner or heater will make the system work harder and waste energy.
Xeriscape your yard. Xeriscaping is a style of landscape design requiring little or no irrigation or other maintenance. Huge lawns use a lot of water to maintain, so consider adding drought-tolerant plants in order to reduce your water consumption by 50 to 75 percent.
Food and Water
Use water carefully. Obsess over every drop. Do not run it while brushing your teeth or shaving. It takes a lot of energy to heat water, so use less hot water and when you do, use efficient heating appliances. Water management not only helps cities become more resilient in the faces of storms, droughts, and natural disasters, but also saves energy. Try to harvest rainwater to use at home. Rain barrels and rain gardens help capture and purify water, putting less stress on municipal systems and replenishing underground aquifers.
A downspout bucket can provide water for nourishing plants, flowers and trees on your property. Build a downspout planter box. If you live in an apartment building, you can still capture your rainwater.
Food waste is an enormous hidden contributor to climate change. The carbon footprint of this wasted food is about 3.3 billion tons of CO2. There has never been a better time to join efforts to reduce our carbon footprint through food choices. Enjoy more plant-based meals, reduce your food waste altogether, and compost your food scraps. Whether left on your plate or rotting in your fridge, wasted food is a big problem in the U.S. to the tune of 38 million tons a year, according to the EPA! Some estimate that 40% of all food produced is never actually eaten!
Buy food closer to home. The average meal travels 1,500 miles from the farm to plate. Food grown closer to home produces fewer transportation emissions, is fresher and supports local farmers. As the distance food travels decreases, so does the need for processing and refrigeration to reduce spoilage.
Huge reductions in meat-eating are essential to avoid dangerous climate change, according to the most comprehensive analysis yet of the food system impact on the environment. In western countries, beef consumption needs to fall by 90% and be replaced by five times more beans and legumes. The research also finds that enormous changes to farming are needed to avoid destroying our ability to feed the 10 billion people expected to be on the planet in a few decades. Food production already causes great damage to the environment, via greenhouse gases from livestock, deforestation and water shortages from farming, and vast ocean dead zones from agricultural pollution. Without action, its impact will get far worse as the world population rises by 2.3 billion people by 2050 and global income triples, enabling more people to eat meat-rich western diets.
Climate change alone poses multiple risks to health and well-being through increased risk of extreme weather events such as floods, droughts and heat waves, and has been described as the greatest threat to human health in the 21st century. Reducing consumption of animal products is essential if we are to meet global greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets which are necessary to mitigate the worst effects of climate change.
Stop Using Plastics
Say no to plastic. Avoid products with a lot of packaging. Plastic bags are incredibly destructive to the environment: They take hundreds of years to break down, contaminate soil and waterways, and cause widespread marine animal deaths. To combat the problem, cities and states have enacted plastic-bag bans or fees on single-use bags. Switch to reusable bags and use them consistently.
Avoid the use of disposable goods such as lighters, paper cups and plastics. Throwing these objects contribute to greater problems and they have to be replaced over and over again. Once these goods are disposed off in the landfills, there is the probability that they may form breeding sites for diseases. Besides, once these materials are used there is need to replace them each time which is very expensive and costly.
Do not drink bottled water. Landfills already contain more than 2 million tons of plastic bottles. And 1.5 million barrels of oil are used to manufacture water bottle every year. And those bottles take more than 1,000 years to biodegrade. Yeah, that reusable water bottle does sound like a good idea.
Recycling and re-using products like paper and bottles will help protect the environment. Use recycled paper. Recycle your office and household waste. According to the EPA, in 2013 Americans generated about 254 million tons of trash and recycled and composted about 87 million tons of this material, equivalent to a 34.3 percent recycling rate. We need to do better.
Recycle clothes. The average American throws away 80 pounds of clothing a year. Not only is this wasteful, but the environmental cost of manufacturing and distributing new clothes is devastating. A handful of retailers offer recycling programs, some companies will actually purchase, refurbish, and resell your gently worn garments.
The Freecycle Network is made up of iver 5,000 groups nearly 10 million members around the world, and next door to you. Freecycle a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns and neighborhoods. It supports reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by local volunteers. Membership is free.
Start walking. Is there any single action that is better for your mind, your body, and your planet?
Drive less. Walk, bike, carpool or take public transport. No matter where you live, travel by car or airplane contributes heavily to our shared carbon footprint. Take public transit, biking, or walking when possible. Good for your health, your wallet, and the planet.
Can you work from home one day each week. Studies show that 45 percent of the U.S. workforce has a job suitable for full-time or part-time telecommuting. Working a few days from home each month means one less commuter on the road contributing to greenhouse gases.
Make sure your tires are properly inflated. The Department of Energy reports that under-inflated tires have a negative effect on fuel economy. Improve your gas mileage by keeping tires inflated to the proper pressure. Better gas mileage means fewer trips to the pump and a reduction in carbon-dioxide emissions.
Calculate your carbon footprint. Use an online tool to calculate and track your carbon footprint, and prepare to be astounded by how much transportation contributes to your total.
Check your gas cap. A loose, cracked, or damaged gas cap wreaks havoc on the environment, allowing gas to escape from your tank as vapor. It also wastes fuel and your hard-earned gas money. Consider a replacement if it has logged more than 50,000 miles.
Map a two-mile circle around your house and walk everywhere within it. You will not only realize how many places are an easy half-hour walk away, but you can also eliminate unnecessary vehicle trips that make emissions and congestion worse.
Only wash your car in a self-serve car wash. It may seem better to wash your car at home, but it is worse for the environment. Washing your car in the driveway causes polluted water to run into sewers, and you will likely keep the hose running too long. The best way to wash a car is at a self-serve station where customers use a coin-operated spray device; these stations use around 12 to 18 gallons of water per vehicle, compared to up to 100 gallons at home.
Take public transit. Sure, public transportation helps reduce gridlock and carbon emissions. But many city dwellers incorrectly assume that buses and trains take longer. So give transit a try. It may just exceed your expectations.
Turn off your engine. If stopped for more than 10 seconds (unless stuck in traffic), do not idle. Idling is bad for your car, uses fuel, and contributes to air pollution.
Just ride a bike. Yes, riding a bike really can save the world. According to a 2015 study by the University of California at Davis, shifting more urban trips to bicycling, and cutting car use accordingly, could reduce urban transportation CO2 emissions by 50 percent worldwide by 2050. That seems especially feasible when you consider that half of all urban trips are a bikeable six miles or less.
Start a carpool. In 2014, over 76 percent of commuters in the United States drove to work alone, most often in their own personal vehicle. Carpools save money on gas, reduce your carbon footprint, let you work during the drive, and get you access to specially designated carpool lanes that are reserved for high-occupancy vehicles.
If you do not use a car often enough to justify owning one, use car sharing. New services like Car2go and Zipcar give you the convenience of having a car without the added costs, and negative environmental impacts of car ownership. Users can pay to drive cars when they need them by the minute, hour, or day. Studies show that access to shared cars takes vehicles off of roads, eases parking congestion, and can have a ripple effect of reducing carbon-dioxide emissions and gas use.
Ride the bus. Transit ridership is down in almost every major U.S. city, which could be detrimental to the ability of your town to combat climate change. Boost your urban transportation future across the board by riding the bus, and be on the lookout for self-driving technology that just might save the bus.
Replace your current car with an electric vehicle. Switching to an electric vehicle will not only reduce your emissions but will also save you money in the long run. Going electric also means investing in the future of a clean grid.
Be informed. Knowledge is power. Learn more about the science behind our climate challenge and the responsibility that all sectors hold in addressing the issue. Add your voice to the issues that are shaping the climate debate as well as emerging, evidence-based data that directly relates to changes in our climate.
See "An Inconvenient Truth" and "Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power".
Support publications reporting on climate change. Great journalism makes us all better citizens and helps us learn more about the issues (for example, how climate change is changing the taste of tea, moving Maine lobsters to Canada, and hurting food production).
Learn how sea-level rise will affect your city. Have you seen the real estate maps showing the worst-case scenarios of submerged condo towers if climate change goes unchecked. But the truth is that marginalized communities will be affected first.
Follow the "One Small Step" series on YouTube. These are short videos that are long on information about how you can make a difference.
Use your power as a citizen scientist. Join the Earth Challenge 2020 and help us reach our goal of one billion data points by Earth Day 2020.
Downsize. Does the idea saving the planet appeal to you? Try to be mindful of what you do and do not need. A more measured approach to consumption can also eliminate unneeded purchases that contribute to global emissions.
Plant your own vegetable garden. Enjoy local fresh tomatoes from your backyard. Or work with others to plant a community garden. Rolling up your sleeves and digging in the soil offers a great way to meet neighbors and enhance your neighborhood. The American Community Gardening Association offers resources and recommendations on managing and maintaining a public patch.
Plant trees. A single tree will absorb one ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime.
Join a CSA. Community-Supported Agriculture connects consumers with seasonal food sold directly from nearby farmers. Help support farmers while also eating local.
Start composting. Transforming food scraps and lawn clippings into fresh, nutrient-rich soil gives home gardens a boost. Roughly 20 to 30 percent of what we normally throw out can be composted.
Pick up trash. Bring two small bags when you go outside. Pick up the trash you find on your way, dividing it into recyclables and trash destined for the landfill and help keep debris from harming animals and ending up in our streams and waterways.
Shop local. Simple, straightforward, and an easy addition to your routine that supports local businesses, provides community jobs, and reduces transportation costs and carbon emissions.
Put books about climate change in your nearest little free library. Walk down any neighborhood street in cities like Denver, Colorado, and you will see small wooden boxes full of free books. These Little Free Libraries are the perfect place to donate books on climate change.
Support local river clean-up. Cities across the U.S. are working to make their rivers cleaner and more enjoyable. There are movements to create a designated swim park in the Charles River (Boston) and to install a floating pool in East River (New York City). Check out American Rivers for information on how to support a river clean-up near you.
Attend a town hall. Ask your representatives about climate change in person by finding an upcoming town hall near you. The Sierra Club offers talking points for how to ask your congressperson about protecting the EPA and issues surrounding the US withdrawal from the Paris agreement.
Join a climate action event. Organizations across the country like the Sunrise Movement are hosting events to bring attention to climate action. Find an event near you, or organize your own.
ONE PERSON. You are one person. You can make a difference. Why not pass this website address along to a friend, because of one person can make a difference, imagine what two can do. Thank you!