National Geographic : 2009 Mar
We decided to try an experiment. For one month we tracked our personal emissions of carbon dioxide (CO ) as if we were counting calories. We wanted to see how much we could cut back, so we put ourselves on a strict diet. e average U.S. household produces about 150 pounds of CO a day by doing commonplace things like turning on air-conditioning or driv- ing cars. at s more than twice the European average and almost ve times the global aver- age, mostly because Americans drive more and have bigger houses. But how much should we try to reduce? For an answer, I checked with Tim Flannery, author of The Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth. In his book, he d challenged read- ers to make deep cuts in personal emissions to keep the world from reaching critical tipping points, such as the melting of the ice sheets in Greenland or West Antarctica. "To stay below that threshold, we need to reduce CO emis- sions by 80 percent," he said. " at sounds like a lot," PJ said. "Can we really do that?" It seemed unlikely to me too. Still, the point was to answer a simple question: How close "We're farm people," says Janice Haney of Greensburg, Kansas. "I enjoy hanging clothes out. We don't have to waste electricity on the dryer. The good old Kansas wind can do it on its own."