Just this past week, the Endangered Species Coalition published a report on the 10 U.S. species most threatened by fossil fuel production and use. Included in the list are well-known species such as polar bears and whooping cranes, little known species such as tan riffleshell and Kentucky arrow darter, and some of my favorites like the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle, dunes sagebrush lizard, and Wyoming pocket gopher. Assuming that we care about these species and their roles in the ecosystem (see post "A few misconceptions about endangered species" 12/31/11), what’s a person to do? I’m not able to make national decisions about our country’s energy sources (although in a Desocracy we’d concentrate heavily on renewables and conservation). But remembering that our country makes up approximately 5% of the world’s population, but uses over 20% of the world’s oil, we each have an important role to play in protecting the listed endangered species.
Start by figuring out your contribution to global warming (produced by your use of fossil fuels) and where you might be able to cut back. Take the Ecological Footprint quiz --you’ll find out how many Earths would be needed to sustain your lifestyle if everyone on Earth lived as you do. Next, check out the “Low Hanging Fruit” tab. There you’ll find tips on reducing your fossil fuel use by reducing plastics, eating less meat, driving less, conserving heat and air conditioning, using reusable bags (yes, those plastic bags are made of oil), and using your microwave. For more tips and fun facts, check out this great list of energy saving tips. To educate yourself more about “big picture” ideas on cutting oil use (mostly transportation) check out the suggestions from the Council on Foreign Relations and National Resources Defense Council. It may seem a topic that is too big to deal with, but we all have to do something, big or small – even DOD is wrestling with energy security and conservation.
So let’s each pick one thing this week that will reduce use of oil. I’m going to walk a little more this week, because I think those sagebrush lizards are worth saving.