Climate Change: Education and Action
In the recent election much was said pro and con about programs to fight climate change. In our opinion, much of this was based on a lack of basic understanding of basic principles. There is a clear need for more education in this area which may well affect the future of our planet. This education must be followed by action to make a difference.
Our climate change from greenhouse gas emissions, can be divided into three parts: 1) City level projects, 2) Business and Industry, and 3) Private homes.
Each responds to different approaches. Our initial work with a municipality is in Wauwatosa. This city was selected because we have many active Sierra Club members living there. We are working through the Wauwatosa Energy Committee appointed by the mayor as a city sponsored program. This committee is developing specific recommendations for the City to reduce energy use and pollution from city owned facilities and equipment. Accomplishments in Wauwatosa will be used as a model for other municipalities.
Much of our work has focused on reducing the environmental impact in individual homes. To accomplish this, we have formed a Green Neighbor program to raise awareness, in households and neighborhoods, of how we use our natural resources. The following article describes our Green Neighbor program. If anyone would like to work on one of these programs, please contact John Bahr.
Green Neighbor Program
We have developed a two page handout, which is included with this website, to draw people into this work. Note that this handout, which was facilitated by Rosemary Wehnes, has several sections: Water Conservation; Energy Efficiency; Food and Community; Smart Transportation; and Waste Reduction. Each section includes a number of actions that can be done to promote greener living. Each item has a number of points indicating the relative importance of that action. These points can either be taken for things already done or can be assigned when a new action is taken. The sum of these points gives the household a total Green Neighbor score.
This handout can be used in two different ways. Individuals can go through their own homes to assess what they have already done and identify actions they can take for further improvement. Or, they can join one of our Green Neighbor groups. These study / action groups are composed of 6 to 10 people who share the goal of reducing the environmental impact of their homes. We recommend that they meet five times each with a different topic. They can either use the topics on the handout or modify this list. Two week intervals seems to work well. The groups can either meet in a central location or in private homes.
At each meeting the assigned topic will be presented with background information. We recommend the reference book “Enact, Steps to Greener Living” published by the Madison Environmental Group and available locally at the Little Read Book Store in Wauwatosa. The group will be asked to discuss the topic and share ideas of how best to deal with it. We will distribute a list of actions that individuals can take in their own home between meetings.
At the next meeting, group members will report on their experiences and share ideas. This provides a group learning experience as people learn from each other. The point totals can also be reported as a measure of success both for individuals and for the group. Following the reporting in and discussion period, the next section will be presented and the same procedure will be followed for this new topic.
After all of the planned sections are covered, we recommend that the final session be a potluck dinner in which the group can celebrate their success.
So far, we have had four successful groups follow this program with more being formed. We continue to form new groups. These can be drawn from friends; neighbors or business, club, school or church organizations. If anyone wants to organize a group contact me. We will provide materials and work with you.
John Bahr, Global Warming and Energy Chair