Tuesday, October 13, 2009

How You Too Can Be a Climate Superhero.

By Dave Rochlin - originally posted on care2.com

The trouble with taking action on climate change is that the issue is so big. Unlike giving money to your church, supporting your local schools, or volunteering to build houses or work in a local shelter, it's hard to believe that your individual action is making a difference. If you're reading this blog, you're already conservation minded, encouraging action, trying to use your car less, and at least thinking of offsetting or buying green energy, etc. What more can you do?

Well I saw a story in my local newspaper that reminded me of the impact we can have as individuals, simply by refusing to accept the stupid things we see around us every day:

A regular commuter on BART (the SF Bay Area's light rail system) noticed that the lights were on all day every day in the parking lot at her local station. It struck her as a huge waste of electricity, even though it was a "drop in the bucket" to BART. She called and and was told that they must be testing the lighting system. Since she works across the street from the station, she doubted that this was the case...the lights had been every day for months.

Rather than accepting a brush off, she enlisted a local newspaper columnist, that recontacted the transit agency on her behalf. A BART crew visited the parking lot and determined that the master light switch had been inadvertently set to manual instead of automatic. The crew simply reset the switches to automatically shut off during the day and fixed the problem.

Parking lots use a lot of lights, and this simple citizen action had 10 or 20 times the impact vs. just reducing her energy consumption at home. By spending a few hours and showing a little determination, she had the strength of ten men...in other words, she was transformed from mere mortal to superhero!

When you speak up, sometimes others listen. It's great to share these successes, to keep us all inspired that we can make a difference.

Photo: Adapted from http://www.flickr.com/photos/xurble/ / CC BY 2.0

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