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Climate Change: What You Can Do - Climate-Saving Tips from a Nature Conservancy Scientist

 

carbon footprint calculator

Patrick Gonzalez, climate change scientist

Patrick Gonzalez, climate change scientist for The Nature Conservancy

Trees store carbon and help slow the pace of climate change

Trees store carbon and help slow the pace of climate change.

What’s a ton of carbon?

A ton of carbon is released when you:

  • Travel 5,000 miles in an airplane
  • Drive 2,500 miles in a medium-sized car
  • Cut down and burn a tree that was about one foot in diameter and 40 feet tall

The average American emits 22 tons of carbon dioxide every year, compared to the worldwide average of just 5 tons per year

“Each person can make a difference because one small positive act multiplied millions of times produces immense benefits.”

— Patrick Gonzalez
Climate Change Scientist
The Nature Conservancy

We Want to Hear from You

Tell us what you think about our climate change work. What are you doing to lessen your impact on the climate?

Climate Change in Depth

Visit our climate change workspace and online library on ConserveOnline, a portal for the conservation community.

Think climate change is too big of a problem to solve? Think again. Small changes in our everyday lives can make a big difference. Just ask Patrick Gonzalez, a Nature Conservancy climate scientist who sits on the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the scientific body assessing global climate change.

As someone close to what climate change will do to our planet, Patrick has made energy conservation a permanent part of his lifestyle. He and his wife have given up their cars and run all of their errands using public transportation. Patrick’s desk is always bare because he saves paper by reading almost everything online, rarely printing out documents.

"Climate change threatens natural communities and human well-being," Patrick said. "Each person can make a difference because one small positive act multiplied millions of times produces immense benefits."

We can all lower our carbon emissions by following Patrick’s top energy and climate-saving tips.

Easy Things You Can Do To Help Our Climate:

  1. TIP: Travel light. Walk or bike instead of driving a car. Cars and trucks run on fossil fuels, which release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. In the United States, automobiles produce over 20 percent of total carbon emissions. Walk or bike and you’ll save one pound of carbon for every mile you travel.
  2. TIP: Teleconference instead of flying. For office meetings, if you can telephone or videoconference, you will save time, money, and carbon emissions. Airplanes pump carbon emissions high into the atmosphere, producing 12 percent of transportation sector emissions.
  3. TIP: See the light. Use compact fluorescent light bulbs. These energy-efficient bulbs help fight climate change because they reduce the amount of fossil fuels that utilities burn. You will save 100 pounds of carbon for each incandescent bulb that you replace with a compact fluorescent, over the life of the bulb.
  4. TIP: Recycle and use recycled products. Products made from recycled paper, glass, metal and plastic reduce carbon emissions because they use less energy to manufacture than products made from completely new materials. For instance, you’ll save two pounds of carbon for every 20 glass bottles that you recycle. Recycling paper also saves trees and lets them continue to reduce climate change naturally as they remain in the forest, where they remove carbon from the atmosphere.
  5. TIP: Inflate your tires. If you own a car, it will get better gas mileage when the tires are fully inflated, so it will burn less gas and emit less carbon. Check your automobile monthly to ensure that the tires are fully inflated. Follow this tip and save 300 pounds of carbon dioxide for every 10,000 miles you drive.
  6. TIP: Plant native trees. Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the air and use it as their energy source, producing oxygen for us to breathe. A tree in the temperate zone — found between the tropics and the polar circles—can remove and store 700 to 7,000 pounds of carbon over its lifetime. A tree that shades a house can reduce the energy required to run the air conditioner and save an additional 200 to 2,000 pounds of carbon over its lifetime.
  7. TIP: Turn down the heat. Heating and air conditioning draw more than half of the energy that a home uses in the United States. Turn down the heat or air conditioning when you leave the house or go to bed. You can easily install a programmable thermostat that can save up money and carbon.
  8. TIP: Buy renewable energy. Electricity generation produces 40 percent of carbon emissions from the United States. A growing number of utilities generate electricity from renewable energy sources with solar panels, windmills and other technologies. If your utility offers renewable energy, buy it. If not, send them a message asking for clean energy.
  9. TIP: Act globally, eat locally. If you shop at a supermarket, the food you buy may travel in a plane from the other side of the world, burning fossil fuels the entire trip. Shop at a local farmers’ markets and you will find fresh and healthy food, and help save our climate.

Donate now to help stop climate change and global warming

Climate change picture credits (top to bottom, left to right): Photo © Tony Rath (tree); Photo © A. Pinckard (Patrick Gonzalez).