Global warming is one of the most serious threats to our environment, our health, and our economy. The earth’s climate is changing rapidly, and these changes are driven in large part by burning fossil fuels such as coal and oil. A thickening layer of carbon dioxide and other pollutants from power plants, cars, trucks, rail, and air transport, and buildings trap heat in the atmosphere. Unless we act now to reduce global warming pollution, people will suffer from increasingly severe storms, floods, and droughts, rising seas, degraded lakes and streams, and fewer plant and animal species. Scientists agree that we must reduce emissions of global warming pollution by sixty to eighty percent by the year 2050, and that these pollution reductions must start within ten years.
Minnesota is especially vulnerable to damages from global warming pollution, which could significantly change Minnesot’s natural resources and quality of life. Unless we cut our global warming emissions, our natural environment will suffer. Our farms, forests, lakes, tourism, and recreation could all be damaged from global warming. Habitats for fish, waterfowl, and birds are already threatened. For example, populations of walleye, which are considered icons of Minnesot’s natural heritage, are being harmed by global warming. Warmer weather causes larger walleye to grow more slowly and adversely affects reproduction. According to scientists, their habitat and health will continue to suffer if global warming becomes worse.
If we act now, and act decisively, we can stop the worst impacts of global warming. We need smart state and national policies that require deep, permanent reductions in global warming emissions. These policies will improve the efficiency and cleanliness of our 21st century energy system. But we need to insist on strong local, state, and national leadership from our elected officials and business leaders. In Minnesota, the solutions include a rapid transition to existing clean, efficient sources of energy to power our homes, cars, and businesses.
The average American generates about 15,000 pounds of carbon dioxide every year from personal transportation, home energy use, and the energy used to produce all of the products and services we consume.
What can you do?
- Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs.
- Move your thermostat down two degrees in the winter and up two degrees in the summer.
- Clean or replace your furnace and air conditioner filters.
- Reduce the number of miles you drive, keep your car tuned, and your wheels properly inflated.
- Get informed by researching the web sites listed below or contacting local organizations for ideas on getting involved.
- Help spread the word about global warming solutions through conversations and by example.
- Engage your friends, colleagues, and fellow citizens in discussions on issues and potential solutions.
- Urge your elected officials to take leadership positions in slowing global warming.
Each of us can act to reduce our global warming pollution by reviewing how we use energy. Our health and our environment demand serious action.
The Weather Makers: How Man is Changing the Climate and What it Means for Life on Earth, Tim Flannery, Atlantic Monthly Press 2005.
Playing with Fire: Climate Change in Minnesota, Fresh Energy 2001.
St. Paul, MN, 651-726-7562
www.fresh-energy.orgMinnesota Department of Commerce Energy Information Center
1-800-657-3710 (MN only)