Friday, 3 October 2014

Do it for the Walruses

I made the mistake of turning on the news this morning thinking it would help me to ease into the day. Boy was I wrong! About 35,000 walruses have beached themselves on an Alaskan shore due to melting arctic sea ice, an impact of human enhanced global warming.

I was devastated to see images of the walruses.  To think that these animals have been forced onto land because there is no arctic sea ice for them to rest upon.  This makes them much more vulnerable to predators and to crushing from stampedes if predators or aircraft come too close.

Mass beachings of the walruses began in the late 1990's.  This one seems to be the biggest to date.  Ice sheets are valuable habitat for walruses to rest between feeding dives, as birthing sites and for nursing young.  

The area of arctic ice mass has reduced to 5.02 million square kilometers at is minimum in September this year.  This is 1.61 million square kilometers higher than the 2012 'record minimum' recorded since satellite images started being taken to measure changes in the sea ice.  It is 1.20 million square kilometers lower than the 'average minimum melting' recorded between 1981 to 2010 (source: nsidc).  Human enhanced global warming is responsible for the increased melting.

So as I looked around the kitchen feeling sad and wishing, ok somewhat idealistically, that I could do something to help my husband (Mr Fixit) turned on the coffee machine and I realised how helpless I felt.  We are surrounded by electricity.  However, I realised that this is the perfect reminder of why I want to reduce my electricity use and help others to do the same.  Please see below a few electricity saving tips.  Do it for the walruses.

Tip 1: Use our natural energy source - the sun.  Turn lights out during the day and open blinds and doors.  I'm going to try and use no artificial lighting in the daytime, especially during summer.

Tip 2: If you have a PV solar power system at your home then use the power as it is being made.  This might reduce your financial gain but using power at night is not being environmentally friendly.  You are still using coal fired power if you mainly use power at night but feed the grid solar during the day.  Try to do electricity using activities in the daytime, directly sourcing your solar on site and reducing your reliance on dirty fossil fuels supplying the grid when your solar stops working (i.e. when the sun goes down).  If you don't have solar (we don't) then consider buying Green Power from your utility provider.  This makes them source the amount of power you use from renewable generators such as solar or wind.

Tip 3.  Turn off ALL of your power when you go out.  Find a way to make it easy.  There are different designs to help you make it easy such as the Ecoswitch or else work out where your main appliances are and turn them off.  As you finish using them or when you go out/to bed.  General estimates are that 10% of household power use can be saved just by turning off appliances that are normally left on standby.  In my house that's about $15 a month.

Tip 4. Reduce car travel.  Walk, scoot, or ride for local trips.  Enjoy the slower pace and fresh air.  We've been walking our dogs to the local shops lately, it gives them their daily walk and we get to pick up our last minute items, a win all around.

Tip 5.  Think local when buying food and shopping.  The more locally products are made the less distance they have travelled.  This reduces the fuel required to transport them.  It's simple but easy to forget when you're in a rush.  I do my best to only buy WA dairy and fruit and vegetables.

I would love to hear your energy saving tips or any reasons why you might find it hard to the the 5 tips I have suggested above.  It might not stop the ice melting now but hopefully it will stop it from getting much worse.

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