I found an interesting blog/idea the other day called Riot for Austerity. In it, the author talks about having a goal (not just for herself, but for everyone) of getting down to a resource use of 10% of the average American's. Why only 10%? Because that's what it would take for us to *stop* global warming and a have a sustainable emissions level. The author calculated this in several ways, which is not truly comprehensive but nothing ever will be. I won't line out the points for you because they can be much better read in her post, but it is neat to at least get an overview and as a jumping off point to start figuring out how many resources you use. Are you better or worse than the national average?
The one thing I figured would be easiest for us to take a look at was the gasoline use. Now, I didn't calculate out all of the gasoline we use when we go to the in-laws (mostly because I don't know how much) and drive around with them, or use the snowmachines. But it was simple enough to figure out the total amount we put into the truck every year. We get, on average, about one tank of gasoline per month for nine months of the year. (20 gallon tanks.) Honestly, it's a bit less in the summertime due to biking and now Shane's motorcycle (with its 5 gallon tank we only filled up once, I think) but we'll go on the high side. The other three months of the year are the months we go on roadtrips to see my in-laws. Those months it usually takes us 6-7 tanks, and since I rounded up for the summer I'll round that down to 6. By my calculations, we're using roughly 550 gallons of gas for the two of us each year. It sounds like a lot, until you realize that the average person (by themselves) uses an average of 500 gallons every year. We've almost cut that in half, which is something to be proud of until I realize that to fully reach the Riot for Austerity goal I'd have to reduce our consumption to only 100 gallons per year. Even one of our roadtrips would be too much gasoline and would have to be stopped altogether. Ouch. (And not happening. But, at some point we will be buying a more fuel efficient car, so we can cut down in that way.) Even the author of the Riot admits that her family didn't make it all the way down, though. However, the point isn't to deprive yourself of everything to be able to say, "I did it!" The point is to start a conversation, to get people thinking about their choices and their resource use. It's amazing what an impact it makes when lots of people do a little bit. And it gets easier over time as you stop thinking about what you're giving up and instead think about what you're doing.
There's the common complaint that people just don't want to "sacrifice" anymore. Look what our country did in WWII! Well, part of the reason people did such monumental changes is because people weren't thinking of it as a sacrifice. Instead, they were contributing to the war effort. They were doing something positive for their country and "the boys overseas". It's always a matter of perspective, so I choose to focus on the good I can do rather than be a self-righteous "sacrifice"er.
If the Riot for Austerity seems to strict and harsh to you, another blogger came up with the idea of the Quiet Riot. It's about taking those first steps and making sure it doesn't all feel overwhelming. Do what you can, don't stress about the rest.
Speaking of little steps in the right direction, a report came out the other day saying that pollution in Fairbanks was less bad in 2011 than expected. I liken that statement to being along the lines of "your cancer isn't quite as bad as we thought it would be", but it's still heartening. Slightly. If you read the article it's not all roses and kittens. It's pointed out that the weather has been unusually mild, and that there have been strange winds and a weak temperature inversion that have all contributed to less pollution. On top of all that, the pollution they're focused on is still over the federal limit of 35 parts per cubic meter. Still, "better than expected" is great news compared to "worse than expected". I'll take it.
In other good local news, Gulliver's Books (my favorite store in town!) is going online with ebook sales. Hooray! I should be able to find anything I want there now. They've always been good about ordering books when asked, but this way I'll even be able to get books for my Nook it looks like. Gulliver's, you are amazing. I look forward to continuing to purchase many, many books from you. And don't worry, I'll still go in the store to check out your fantastic used books section.