Archive for January 2010

Challenge #2: Staying Warm for Winter.

Charles jokes that I have a reptilian nature; I tend to be cold and love to sit on a warm rock. That may help explain why it took a while to get our electricity monitor installed. It sat on the dresser for a week before I finally opened the package and read the directions.
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Challenge #2: Staying Warm for Winter.

Going to sleep last night, I knew I had forgotten something, but I just couldn’t figure out what it was. My roommate had already gone to sleep as had the rest of my suite. I went through my normal routine: shower, brush teeth, set alarm (well, two alarms, since I tend to sleep through the first!). But I knew there was something I was forgetting to do. Although I was uneasy, once I climbed into bed, I was asleep within minutes. But at 3 a.m., I woke up suddenly to a cool breeze blowing swiftly across my face, and I instantly remembered what I had forgotten to do before I went to bed. (Can you guess what it was?)
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Challenge #2: Staying Warm in Winter

Moving from the moist climes of Washington State to San Diego has my “rain clock” screaming most months, even after living over a decade in Southern California. Following eight straight months of bone-dry weather (barring morning moisture dripping off the car), I would love nothing more than to get caught in a huge, thundery deluge, but alas, this fine city is not exactly famous for such weather tantrums. Rather, this is the land of blaring blue skies, buttery breezes, and slathering moisturizer.
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Tatqiq shakes off after a swim at the San Diego Zoo.

Tatqiq shakes off after a swim at the San Diego Zoo.

I recently had the pleasure of attending the Alaska Marine Science Symposium in Anchorage, Alaska. This meeting included presentations from scientists doing research throughout the north Pacific, as well as the Bering, Beaufort, and Chukchi seas. Climate change and human activities present tremendous challenges to certain species of wildlife in these remote marine and coastal locations. I was really impressed by the research efforts and ingenuity on display by scientists studying the lives of the whales, walruses, sea birds, and other wildlife living in the region.
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Challenge #1: What’s your carbon footprint?

This igloo was created by my son, but it’s what our house feels like INDOORS in the winter.

Yikes! I just went into “carbon footprint” shock. Using the San Diego Zoo’s carbon footprint calculator, our little family of 3 (plus 2 dogs) weighs in at 67.5 total metric tons. Honestly, I calculated that three times, making sure I was putting all the numbers in the right spot over and over. Gulp. What surprised me was that, beside the “average consumer” section, that heating oil was our biggest CO2 contribution. I really thought it would be driving.
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Challenge #1: What’s your carbon footprint?

I consider myself a fairly conscientious person when it comes to using basic resources that we all have to share. I don’t leave the lights on when I exit the room, I don’t let water run and run just for a bit of convenience when I’m doing the dishes, and I try to recycle pretty much whatever I can. That being said, when I used the Zoo’s carbon footprint calculator, my carbon foot print is almost exactly that of an average American (9.44 tons a year). Let’s break this down step by step and see where we went wrong.
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Challenge #1: What’s your carbon footprint?

It took me awhile to get creative with an artistic rendering of our family footprint. I tend to express myself in words more than pictures. In any case, here’s the result.

Choosing answers for the carbon footprint calculator was much easier, although it took some deliberation and research. Kirsten is living on campus and not really home much, so I wasn’t sure about including her as part of the household. Of course, her existence requires a basic energy, so I ultimately counted her. In regard to driving, we left out the mileage Charles puts in for his job because it’s not something we can change. Even so, transportation via car and plane is about 90 percent of our carbon output, shown here in pink.
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Challenge #1: What’s your carbon footprint?

This year we’ve resolved to get leaner and greener: a 52-week commitment to making a new green-inspired choice every week in order to form new habits and greener behaviors. By the end of the year we hope to emit measurably less carbon and leave a smaller footprint.
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Challenge #1: What’s your carbon footprint?

I was shocked. Appalled, really. Nearly horrified! I mean, I consider our little household pretty mindful about resources and what we consume and what we conserve. So when I calculated our carbon footprint (I waited until I had a current San Diego Gas & Electric bill in hand) and it revealed that we spew 21.9 METRIC TONS of carbon into the atmosphere each year, with the national average being 21 metric tons, I was reeling. Our miniature commutes, rabid recycling efforts, well-insulated home, drastic water conservation, and profound aversion for using plastic grocery bags all still spelled out CARBON EMISSIONS. Argh. So I will be buying 1.2 acres of rain forest for $108 to pay penance for my carbon sins. I hope it helps.
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Challenge #1: What’s your carbon footprint?

I think I have a pretty good understanding of basic science, especially as a prospective science major with several science classes under my belt. But when I calculated my carbon footprint, I didn’t really understand what “10.6 metric tons” really meant. To get a better idea of the scale, I think of a balloon with a diameter of 10 yards and filled with CO2. It would weigh about 1 metric ton. Therefore, my 10.6 metric tons means that I fill almost eleven balloons with just my carbon footprint. My roommate also fills about 11 balloons each year…and the other 100 freshmen in my building likely fill around 10 or 11 balloons each.
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