The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
By Brooke Jarvis and Doug Pibel
This story from the YES! Media archives was originally published in the Spring 2008 issue of YES! Magazine.
The Joneses are your average U.S. energy consumers. They haven't yet upgraded to energy-efficient appliances, their house needs better insulation, and they keep the place as cool in the summer and warm in the winter as most Americans do. The two adults commute 30 miles each per day, in separate cars with average fuel efficiency, and every year they each drive an added 4,500 miles running errands and taking their child to soccer games and violin practice. The family takes one vacation trip per year, flying to visit grandparents 1,350 miles away. How much CO2 do their house and cars produce? We figure it at 60,000 pounds, or 10 tons for each family member.
Lately, though, the Joneses have been reading about climate change, and they're getting worried. Ecological crisis has never felt so urgent before. Even little Joey Jones is talking greenhouse gases—he learned at school that scientists are predicting a worldwide climate catastrophe that will change the rest of his life, unless we stop the worst effects by making big changes in the next 10 years. The Joneses decide that change is necessary, and they're ready to do their part. But how much can they really do? A lot, it turns out.
In 10 years, without sacrificing their way of life, the Jones family can eliminate the CO2 emissions that their home and transportation used to create—the bulk of their carbon footprint.
Sources: Rocky Mountain Institute, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy, University of Chicago.
Count Your Carbon
Want to keep up with the Joneses? Here are the numbers we used. Use them to find—then shrink—your own carbon footprint.
The Rest of the Story
The Joneses only changed their housing and transport habits. How can you go further?
Eat meatless. For each day of the week you skip meat, you'll save 215 pounds per year.
Buy local. Most food eaten in the U.S. has traveled 1,500 miles to your plate.
Be a low-impact consumer. Choose local products, reduce the stuff you buy, and save embedded energy by buying used.
Reduce waste. Stop junk mail, reduce packaging, and reduce the 2,020 pounds each American's waste produces annually.
Avoid the McMansion. A smaller house saves a lot of carbon: on average, 11.4 pounds of CO2 per square foot per year.
Reposted with permission from our media associate YES! Magazine.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Brian Barth
Late fall, after the last crops have been harvested, is a time to rest and reflect on the successes and challenges of the gardening year. But for those whose need to putter around in the garden doesn't end when cold weather comes, there's surely a few lingering chores. Get them done now and you'll be ahead of the game in spring.
By Bailey Hopp
If you had to choose a diamond for your engagement ring from below or above the ground, which would you pick … and why would you pick it? This is the main question consumers are facing when picking out their diamond engagement ring today. With a dramatic increase in demand for conflict-free lab-grown diamonds, the diamond industry is shifting right before our eyes.
(R) The measles virus pictured under a microscope. PHIL / CDC
The Pacific Island nation of Samoa declared a state of emergency this week, closed all of its schools and limited the number of public gatherings allowed after a measles outbreak has swept across the country of just 200,000 people, according to Reuters.
By Alison Cagle
Rising above the Arizona desert, the Santa Rita Mountains cradle 10,000 years of Indigenous history. The Tohono O'odham Nation, Pascua Yaqui Tribe, and Hopi Tribe, among numerous other tribes, have worshipped, foraged, hunted and laid their ancestors to rest in the mountains for generations.
Native Americans are disproportionately without access to clean water, according to a new report, "Closing the Water Access Gap in the United States: A National Action Plan," to be released this afternoon, which shows that more than two million Americans do not have access to access to running water, indoor plumbing or wastewater services.
By Nanticha Ocharoenchai
In the Czech Republic, horses have become the knights in shining armor. A study published in the Journal for Nature Conservation suggests that returning feral horses to grasslands in Podyjí National Park could help boost the numbers of several threatened butterfly species.