Negawatts

I’ve been thinking about my carbon footprint, as I do every time there is another freakish, freaking reminder of global climate change. This means I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately.

I thought our family had already done quite a bit to reduce our footprint, and compared to most Americans that is probably true. Little consolation, considering our spendthrift ways as a nation compared to, say, Japan. The three of us live in a 1700-sq ft house, which is small by bourgeois American standards, and by so doing we conserve energy. We also save money, which we then use to travel. But, it turns out, that by taking one airplane trip a year we eliminate, by far, everything we’ve done otherwise to reduce our carbon consumption.

This includes driving a hybrid, taking public transportation at least twice a week, buying organic, using non-toxic detergents, and — a biggie — working from home three times a week and leaving the dang car in the garage except for the grocery run.

So I was intrigued by the New Yorker’s profile this week by global climate change maven Elizabeth Kolbert on Amory Lovins, which explains his coinage of the term “negawatt.” A negawatt is “a watt of electricity that does not have to be generated because an energy-saving measure has obviated the need for it.” That puts a positive spin on it! I can now honestly say we produce lots of negawatts a day.

Seriously, because this is a positive and not negative way of addressing what people can do, it could result in people actually listening. Next they might do something. Particularly if products, for example compact fluorescent bulbs, could be packaged with the term “Produces 61 Negawatts”.

And, it’s time for Boeing to start building hybrids.

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About kmazz

I spend as much time as possible pursuing my interests in global culture, arts and politics.
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