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Environmental issues are now so important, they should perhaps be just about the only thing people write about on Daily Kos.  This new series of diaries is going be published every two or three days, and it’s going to be only about environmental issues.  I’ll put a great focus on what could help the environment- on what we should support and do ourselves.

Instead of just watching a movie about the environment or reading a book about the environment, people have to remember to takes steps in their own lives to help the environment, even such as buying an electric vehicle.  That’s the spirit this diary series is going to be written in hopes of encouraging.  

Today’s diary isn’t going to have just one particular topic, but instead is just going to mention a few various points.  

A couple of days ago I sent the following letter to the letters-to-the-editor section of my local paper.  It’s not the most polished, perhaps, but I was just trying to fit all the ideas I wanted to write about into the paper’s 200 word limit for letters they may consider printing.  

Take a look at it- I hope it will convince you to buy an electric car or solar panels, but I also hope you’ll write or say something similar.  Perhaps you could use it as a model for a letter to your own local paper, or could present something to a community group or professional group as a way to try to get them to start some kind of project for the environment.  

 

Environmental problems are the biggest issue facing people. The President and the government should set an ambitious goal to dramatically increase within a year (not twenty, ten, or five) the number of hybrid and electric cars on the road.  In Brazil almost all cars already run on biofuel, not gasoline.  Goals should also be set for increasing the use of solar panels by homes and businesses within a year or two.  

 The states should also independently set such goals.    

Furthermore, the federal government should protect the rainforest.  If necessary, they should start buying large areas of rainforest and deforested rainforest land- protecting domestic forests is not enough.  

Communities across America should add more types of recycling programs, such as food scrap, diaper and textile recycling.  Such programs are already successful in some places- in June, New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg introduced food scrap recycling to parts of all five boroughs.  

Hybrids and electric vehicles can save drivers money.  They are subsidized through rebates, and recharging a car costs much less than buying gasoline.  Also, electric vehicles probably will last much longer and require less service than gasoline cars- they have fewer mechanical components that can wear out.  

Many people must have the rainforests very much on their minds.  It turns out that if you google “rainforest” and “reforestation,” now online and on YouTube, you can find some items about rainforest reforestation efforts and sites of groups working on it.  Incidentally, South America’s Amazon rainforest isn’t the only one in the world, and some of these groups are working on restoring these other rainforests.  

This is just one piece of much encouraging environmental / conservation news and info I’ve seen on the Internet recently and that I hope to present in this series of diaries.  But, there is another side of the coin.  We all know rainforest grows quickly.  However, it doesn’t turn into a mature forest- the most optimal form of rainforest for combating greenhouse gases and global warming- in a year or months.  Rather, it can take 10 to 15 years.  So, as encouraging as it is to hear that there is reforestation going on, we should all bear in mind that as much reforestation should start as soon as possible, and we should make promoting that in any way we can our goal- whether it’s donating a lot of money to project, or maybe actually going to one of the reforestation sites to volunteer one’s work.  Or just talking reforestation up wherever we can, like to friends, through raising your hand and volunteering your comments at a lecture, as a presentation at a public event about the environment, or online.  Perhaps this is even one of the most important things we can do to further and speed reforestation.  

You often hear that it’s not really just any forest that is so crucial to fighting global warming, but particularly the rainforests and the Amazon.

One explanation of this I’ve seen online has to do with what science calls the albedo effect.  The albedo effect has to do with light absorption due to the color of an object.  Our planet can’t be its coolest if it’s basically a dark-blue ball, just like on a hot day in spring or summer, you won’t feel as cool wearing a black or dark-blue shirt as you will wearing a white shirt.  As everyone has learned ever since they were a kid, dark colors absorb light and light colors reflect it.    

Unlike for instance evergreen forests that are just dark, rainforests are special for being so moist that they produce their own permanent cloud cover.  So from space, a huge rainforest is often very white, reflecting more heat away from the planet.  

Similarly this albedo effect is part of why the polar ice caps are important.  Global warming reduces the area of the ice caps (and of course, glaciers and snow on mountaintops all around the world).  Then less ice cap we have, the darker the albedo of the Earth, and so global warming is increased further.    

Or perhaps the extra benefit of rainforests comes from their just being so densely full of all sorts of vegetation- they just are capable of capturing much more carbon than other sorts of forests because of it.  

So, as good as the idea of banning real Christmas trees or as a program that reforests in non-tropical, non-rainforest areas like say New York City’s MillionTreesNYC program may sound, it may be that to an extent they are distracting, are missing the point, are not doing enough.  As great as it is to reforest those areas, we have to be much more successful first at reforesting the rainforests.    

Considering how far things have gone with environmental problems worsening, people shouldn’t content themselves to wait for government to step in and do enough.  If government doesn’t sufficiently reforest, at least private people, corporations and charitable groups should buy land and reforest.  People should not stop with trying to persuade the government, but should set up their own nonprofit groups, should contact groups that give out grants, and should persuade philanthropists to direct their own funds and clout toward saving the rainforest.

Next I’d like to mention a type of activism many people may find rewarding, or that perhaps they could really win someone over to by suggesting it to a young person they know, like a son or daughter in high school or in college.  

It could be that a flier about living green that people can leave on cars and in mailboxes would be more effective activism than many websites. Perhaps just a front-and-back sheet, or maybe two stapled together, that encourages them about the following things and lists some stats on them:

-Buy LED bulbs
-Buy an electric car
-Get solar power
-Get efficient windows
-Fix sink and toilet leaks
-Go vegetarian
-Walk more
-Bike more
-Recycle e-waste
-Buy from garage sales and secondhand stores
-Unplug electrical appliances that are not in use

A lot of the point the flier’s text would make would be how these things could save you money, and of course a lot of the point would be how much they help the environment.

A group working on this could also e-mail their flier to groups across the country and encourage them to do their own campaigns leaving copies in mailboxes and under windshields.

I think a good flier would have a lot of specifics, like which stores you can buy LED bulbs from, how much they cost and how much they save you, the names of companies that will install solar panels, basic facts about performance and cost of electric cars, efficient washers, driers, dishwashers, water fixtures, etc.

It shouldn't leave the research up to the audience and leave them in doubt.  Instead it should just specifically tell them where and how to get these things, how much they cost, that they save you money, etc

A person with a job and a car could just make and distribute 1,000 of these fliers every week pretty easily.  Over the course of a year, they could leave 1,000 in 50 different towns, and just depend on word-of-mouth for what the flier says to spread throughout each town more fully.  

If you had a buddy or a boyfriend or a girlfriend who could help you, it would be even easier.

Over the course of the project, you could show the flier to people you know or you meet who are witty, intelligent, and persuasive, and they could offer ideas on how to make the flier even better.  

You don't even have to stand around in the copy shop with the fliers being made- you could just ask them to make them for you.  So that wouldn't take much time, and the cost might be $50 or something like that for 1,000 fliers every week.

Then distributing them is just a fun outing for an hour or so every week, is getting exercise and a chance to see a new place.  You could contact groups in the town and get them to do part of the work for you- different community groups might like the idea of distributing a large number of your fliers for you.  A church group or something like that that is very public spirited might think it's just their sort of thing to do to have their members go out distributing some of the fliers.  

Thank you for checking out the first Save The Environment diary.  

Next: Vegetarianism and the environment

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