Climate Change and People Change
Fear and Hope
Arnold Schwarzenegger is taking oil companies to court saying it is, “for knowingly killing people all over the world.” Saleemul Hug, director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development in Bangladesh, who helps advise the least developed countries in the United Nations climate talks, said “Any country or company continuing to champion further exploration for and mining of coal and even other fossil fuels from now on would be willfully carrying out a crime against humanity, and they would be held accountable.” Records from the ExxonMobil Co. reveal that they knew of climate change problems caused by fossil fuels twenty years ago and did nothing. We must change the way we get work done but unlike the past we have the do it quickly! For thousands of years we did things with muscle power, human (often slave) and animal. For the last hundred and fifty years we used fossil fuel energy to do our work. As a result we are killing our world. I use the term “we” because it is time for all of us to start taking responsibility for this tragedy. It is not only the coal, gas and oil companies, it is also those who deliver these fuels, those who make the cars and the furnaces that use fossil fuels and each of us who drive gas cars and heat our homes with the remains of life long gone. People are dying from floods, droughts, air pollution, and winds caused by climate change. In the past most of us changed from accepting, to working against ways of living such as slavery, racism, sexism, smoking, …. you name it. So it must be now, with fossil fuels.
Climate change is happening. For causes please see links - climate change. It is very hard for people to change but it is possible. Drug addicts and alcoholics can get off of these addictions. Criminals can go straight. We can change but again it is very difficult. A simple example: fold your hands in front of you the way you always do. Now move your hands over one finger and feel how terribly strange that is. It will take you a long time before you will automatically fold your hands that way.
I also believe that climate change has reached the point where it can not be reversed before doing great damage. Humans do not respond well to future dangers. We have let our abuse of the planet go too long. It will take a large scale event, probably involving a significant population die back, for us to really address the issues.
I try to change these events because as William of Orange said “You need not hope in order to attempt, nor succeed in order to persevere.” WE have to make the attempt. Also, as a friend at the NTSB tells me, if you have a car crash at 30 miles per hour instead of at 50 miles per hour, your chances of survival are much better.
What should we do?
REMEMBER THE "R" WORDS
Reduce Don't buy so much.
Redesign Buildings for passive solar and photovoltaics
Reuse old blankets become pet beds or old boards make a planter etc.
Repair clothes, umbrellas, appliances
Recycle If you don't want it take it to the dump's swap shop, eBay or give it away
Rent Don't buy. Tools, books (library), videos,
Renovate don't tear down and rebuild
Refuse to eat beef and other large animals
Reheat food don't throw it out
Respect your belongings and you can keep use them longer
Renewable energy see Solar
Check out "The Story of Stuff"
Donate to an envronmental org.
Through tax breaks or zoning cause new construction to be oriented to solar south for future active and passive solar energy. It is so easy and free before the foundation is laid. The sun has and will be out chief energy source. If you know anyone building a house please give them a copy of "Building a House" (see below).
Twenty five percent of the electricity in Gremany comes from PV because they have made it economically possible for individuals to add it to their homes. By 2050 they hope to make it one hundred percent. They reason that it must happen so why not lead the way. We need to do the same.
Reduce the price of plug in electric cars like the Volt through taxes, other incentives and building a cheaper car.
Prepare for possible disruption of normal life due to weather disasters. How much energy you put into the prep work depends on how worried you are, where you live and how much faith you have in our systems. I thought that folks in cities were ok till I read about storm Sandy and a NYT article, “The Disaster Preppers Next Door.” On the west coast folks have a “quake bag.” In New England we worry about storms, loss of power and heating. We tend to “shelter in place” since snow and downed trees make it impossible to go elsewhere. Those who don’t have generators or wood stoves (fewer and fewer) drain their pipes if it is freezing outside and go to neighbors for a while, sometimes a long while. If you know anyone who might need it, please give them a copy of "How to Drain Your pipes" see below. If you do not have a way to heat your house when the electricity is out, at least install a transfer switch for the heating system. That will allow a small generator to be connected to the furnace.
More on Emergency Planning
We need fewer people who share just a bit more equally. As a French king named Louis discovered inequality can go too far.
Eventually we will have to stop burning fossil fuels. We will have to find another way to drive, heat out homes and heat our food so that we burn nothing to live. Air to air heat pumps to heat homes and hot water, electric cars and inductive electric stoves are already being used by some.
Stop wasting resources and lives on war.
Money for Energy Savings
For quick list please see Here
There are many programs to save us money on energy and energy using devices. The problem is that they change frequently. Below is a list of information sources. Check also with your town and electric company.
Columbia Gas Customers - Rebates on many gas appliances from thermostats to furnaces. They also arrange free energy audits for customers all via MassSave (see below)
DSIRE - Department of Energy Database for Incentives
MA 15%income tax rebate up to $1,000 for PV
Solar Mass Renewable Target (SMART) - The new PV incentive which starts in Decenber of 2018. MUNIs or Municipal Light Plant towns have a separate program and only it the MLP joins.
Property and Sales Tax exemption for Solar - 100% exemption for 20 years
MA Clean Energy Center
$750 off the cost of replacing their existing stoves
MA Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
Mass Save - only for Investor Owned Utilities like Columbia Gas
Home Energy Assessments - 75% rebate up to $2,000 to complete recommended energy efficiency improvements. Rebates for Investor Owned Utilities customers ($200 rebates on clothes dryers)
Mass Solar Loan Program - See Home
MuniHELPS for Municipal Electric Companies such as South Hadley. Rebates from $50-$300 on Clothes Washers, Dishwasher, Refrigerators, Dehumidifiers, Water Heaters, Heat pumps, Central Air conditioners, Programmable Thermostats, Building Insulation, Space Heating
SHELD - Can arrange free energy audit from MuniHELPS call 1-888-333-7525 and other Rebates
30% tax rebate on Solar Water Heat, Photovoltaics, Wind, Fuel Cells, Geothermal Heat Pumps, other Solar-Electric Technologies, Fuel Cells using Renewable Fuels -- no cap and multi year
$7,500 tax rebate on Electric cars such as the Volt – one year cap
Energy Star rebates More
AIR SOURCE HEAT PUMPS
Heat pumps are the hope of the future. We need to heat and cool our homes without using fossil fuels. Heat pumps use electricity which can be made from PV. This system was added in September of 2013 to heat and cool my living room with heat taken out of the outside air. The result is much more efficient electrical heating and cooling.
GE GeoSpring Heat Pump Water Heater
A heat pump hot water heater (I bought the GE GeoSpring 50 Gal. 10-Year Hybrid-Electric Heat Pump Water Heater) takes the heat out of the air in your house and puts it in the hot water tank. It uses much less electricity than an electric hot water heater. Saving $300 plus on you electric bill per year. The big electric companies in my area will give you a $750 rebate and the IRS will put in a $300 tax rebate. That pays for the new heat pump water heater (on sale from Lowes or Sears for $1,000). South Hadley's SHELD will only do a $300 rebate as of 2014. An install by a plumber costs the same for either a heat pump or old style water heater. If your heater is old this is a good deal.
As stated before we need to look for ways to live without burning anything. Most of us cook with natural gas or electric stoves both of which generate carbon directly or indirectly. They have safety problems and heat the kitchen. Inductive cooking causes a magnetic field to heat steel cookware. It uses significantly less energy than gas or electric, is safer, and the heat starts and stops quickly. The pot itself heats the food, not a flame or electric heat from below, induction cooking does not heat the kitchen in the summer. It uses so little electricity that PV solar can power it. An induction stove costs about $1,400 as of 2018 but a “hot plate” starts at about $80 as of 2014.
BUYING CARBON OFFSETS
None of us would go out into the street to poop. In addition to being embarrassing and illegal, that type of pollution is a way to spread disease. Not so long ago we did “dump” our bodily waste in that manner and thought nothing of it. So it is now with carbon.
Now we dump our carbon in the air. A small car puts about five tons of carbon in the air per year. We breathe it and get sick. It warms out planet and wildlife dies as do some of us. In some cities we can not even see through it. We ask ourselves what can I do about climate change?
It is very difficult to live without polluting the atmosphere. Carbon offsets are a way to undo our carbon pollution. We donate money ($10-$40 per ton) to an organization which plants trees or distributes CFL bulbs or traps landfill methane for cooking fuel, etc. As with any donation there are questions of efficiency and scams. It is probably best to go with a known group such as WWF or the Nature Conservancy. Here is more information from a few URLs:
More at Climate Change Links
There is something we can do about climate change.
Building a House?
Make it Worth More at Little or No Extra Cost
How? Pay attention to the sun. In the future we will get more energy directly from the sun. It may be solar hot water, photovoltaic (PV) solar electric or something yet to be invented. Almost all of our energy has and will come from the sun, be it wood, coal, oil, natural gas, PV or new ways of gaining energy from the sun.
It is relatively easy if your house is oriented to solar south. If the longest side of the house is facing the south you can put large windows in it (now or later) and gain heat from passive solar. In a moderately insulated home the heating system will not turn on during a sunny winter day. Turning the house to the south costs nothing.
If the walls are well insulated (above code) night heating costs can be reduced to the point where a heat pump or other small unit will suffice. True there is a small up front cost to thicker wall but the long term savings are vast.
If the roof is also oriented to solar south at a pitch of thirty to thirty-five degrees (for Hadley), PV, hot water and possible new technologies will be easy to install and effective. The only extra building cost is adding two inches or so to the width of the roof framing to allow for extra weight later.
You can install the PV and such later. You can cut a tree later. You can not rotate the house or thicken the walls later. Even if you only have a “solar ready” house, it will be worth more when sold. A house with installed solar will save money now and be worth much when sold.
Emergency Communication via CB Radio
During the October snowstorm of several years ago I spent three days trapped in the house with no power, land line or cell phone. The same thing happened to a friend. We are both retired and live alone. Any kind of help was out of reach. Storms resulting from climate change will be as bad or worse in the future.
We decided to use CB radios to keep in touch. We kept it simple and cheep. For about $80 each we purchased two Cobra HH 38 WX ST Handheld radios. It is a 4watt (the legal max) battery powered hand held radio with forty CB channels and ten weather channels. They come with a second car top antenna and car lighter plug-in power cord. The antenna can be mounted out a window to increase distant reception. The reception is dependent on line of sight so we tried them out before adding members. We now have four households in the CB group.
We have agreed that if the phones go down and the roads are blocked we will monitor channel twenty. One of us has back up power. One has a house on a main state road. Some are old and some are young. We are all neighbors.
How to drain your house’s pipes to prevent freezing
Locate needed items and try it out before the storm. A practice run will allow you to find problems and know what your doing when under pressure and the lights go out.
Turn off the main shut off from the street or water pump. (see picture below)
Turn on all the faucets in the house. Remember the outside faucets. You should not need to worry about emptying the drains.
If you have a walk out basement or a house on a slab, attach a hose to the hot water tank drain at the floor level and drain it (and most of the pipes).
If you have a regular basement, open the lowest hot and cold faucet to drain the pipes. Drain the hot water tank, with hose and buckets.
In either case drain what little is lift by opening the drain valve near the meter (see picture below) or if there is no drain valve unscrew the nut joining the meter to the house pipes.(see picture below)
This should drain the gallon or so of water which is left between the hot water tank and the shut off.
Flush the toilets till empty and try to empty appliances such as dishwasher, washing machine, dehumidifier, fridg water dispenser, ice maker etc. by running them or opening reservoirs and valves.
To be really prepared, before the storm, find out if you have any water pipes that have not completely drained. Most will have. Try to figure a way to blow the water out without electric power (possibly a can of compressed air?).
Flush the toilets till the tanks are empty. Check them and mop out if needed. Pour a cup of propolyene glycol (RV antifreeze), not car antifreeze, in all sink traps and toilet bowls. You can buy a gallon of propolyene glycol at most hardware stores.
Main shut off - bottom right
Hose type drain valve -bottom left
Meter/house pipe joint -to left of meter
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