Take Action Now!
compiled by Jessica Maxwell
Many PNL readers have likely already seen Al Gore's recent documentary An Inconvenient Truth.
If not, you're probably at least familiar with the basics of global warming. Hopefully, you've already been convinced of the urgency of this issue and are looking for ways to take action. We reached out to local organizations for suggestions of individual and collective actions to fight global warming.
Make the switch: from air conditioners to fans, from incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescents, from a clothes dryer to a clothes line, from old appliances to new energy efficient appliances.
Turn it off: every time you leave a room or building, check to see what you can turn off - lights, computers, stereos, etc.
Choose renewables: while we all technically receive the same energy through the grid, you can influence the overall mix of energy by signing up to support renewable energy companies. For example, you can choose to support one of three green energy companies distributing electricity through National Grid (see your bill for information on how to do this).
Go veggie: animal agriculture is responsible for producing huge quantities of methane gas, a powerful contributor to global warming. Large factory farms also rely on manure lagoons which increase methane production. A vegetarian (or vegan) diet is healthier for the planet. If you're not ready to give up meat, talk to the Syracuse Real Food Coop about local, organic meat.
Get there by bike: it's the most efficient mode of transportation - and lots of fun. Whenever possible, choose to walk, bike, skateboard or at the very least carpool.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: in addition to reducing waste in the landfills, reducing our consumption and recycling what we do use saves energy.
Public Power: ultimately, having local, democratic control over energy decisions is the best way to guarantee that energy production and distribution puts the environment and local communities above profits. Other communities with municipal power have also lowered their energy costs. A campaign to implement a public power system in Syracuse is underway. Get involved by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org, or attend their next meeting on Monday, July 24 at 7 pm at 528 Oak St.
Become a nukebuster: many utility companies, like National Grid, sign long-term power purchase agreements with energy polluters like coal and nuclear power plants, limiting the space available for renewable energy on the grid. Until we shut these old plants down, the development of clean energy will be prevented from reaching its full capacity. We need to push for a transition from non-renewable energy sources that pollute and rely on scarce resources to sustainable energy. This is even more urgent locally given the recent news that Oswego may be targeted as a site for another nuclear power plant.
Organize alternative transportation days: whether it's a critical mass bike ride or a "take the bus to work" day, collectively organized days to avoid driving cars are not just good for the environment, they're great for raising public awareness, having fun, and gathering support to pressure politicians to improve public transportation infrastructure.
Organize your school or office: changes in your home are great, but if you've already tackled your own home, move on to bigger targets.
Support small-scale, local farms: the worst environmental impacts come from large-scale, factory farms. Check out one of Syracuse's many farmers markets (downtown-Tuesdays, Regional Market-Saturdays, Lexington Park-Thursdays).
Save NYSERDA!: There is a reoccurring attempt by the NYS legislature to usurp the systems benefit charge (SBC) for political pork projects. The SBC is the small fee paid monthly by all ratepayers in an investor owned utility, like National Grid or NYSEG, to fund public benefit programs, like low income heating assistance programs, energy efficiency programs, and renewable energy programs. Over the past eight years, the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) has administered the New York Energy $mart Program, a project that has successfully promoted energy efficiency and clean energy initiatives. The program has provided substantial benefits to the NYS economy, public health, and environment. NYSERDA should continue to administer the program, rather than the NYS Legislature. Allowing the legislature to administer the program could destabilize important clean energy initiatives at a crucial time.
Support WINBY (Wind in my Back Yard): There are a number of wind proposals in the North Country, WNY, the Southern Tier and off the shore of Long Island. (For more about NYSERDA and WINBY, visit www.citizenscampaign.org.)
Citizens Awareness Network, www.nukebusters.org, 882-6689
Citizens Campaign for the Environment, www.citizenscampaign.org, 472-1339
Global Warming Action Network, http://home.twcny.rr.com/gwan2/, 479-5983 or 424-8833
Sierra Club, Iroquois Chapter, newyork.sierraclub.org/iroquois/, 492-4745