I don’t write about the Riot For Austerity very much here. Maybe it’s because I cringe every time I write out the name (it’s a little strange), maybe it’s because I know that some of you might think I’m insane for taking on such a project, or maybe it’s because I’m largely focused on Community Building of late. I will admit that I am not as active member of the group as I was, but I still think it’s a noble ambition and we do continue to reduce our household emissions.
What’s This Riot?
If this group is new to you, here’s the gist of it. George Monbiot writes:
If we’re to have a high chance of preventing global temperatures from rising by 2C (3.6F) above preindustrial levels, we need, in the rich nations, a 90% reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2030.
We have seen the maps of CO2 emissions, we know who we are: the US, Canada, Norway, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kazakhstan, Finland, Russia, Japan, Libya, UK, Germany, South Africa, Korea… these are the world’s highest CO2 producers per capita.
Climate change is not just a moral question: it is the moral question of the 21st century. There is one position even more morally culpable than denial. That is to accept that it’s happening and that its results will be catastrophic, but to fail to take the measures needed to prevent it.
Members of the Riot for Austerity have decided to take those measures into our own hands. We are changing our lifestyles and reducing our CO2 emissions by 90% of the American average. With our successful actions we hope to motivate others to do the same, and we hope to show our governments that we can and will make these drastic changes voluntarily. And happily.
Our Family’s Changes
Last year Matt and I considerably reduced our usage of water, electricity, heating and cooking fuel, garbage, and consumer goods. We have been changing our lifestyles for many years, so our starting point last year was at about 40% less than the average American household. But by the time we left Geyserville, we were close to 90% reduction in every arena excepting transportation.
Gasoline. Car driving. That was over the American average. By a lot.
So when we were looking for a new home town earlier this year, we looked for a place where we could reduce our driving. We found a dense, walkable urban neighborhood in the heart of Seattle. And when we were looking for jobs, we looked near our home. I am lucky to be able to work from home most of the time. Matt walks less than a mile to work. We walk to our doctors, dentists, grocery stores, library, gym, pet store, farmer’s market, neighborhood sustainability meetings, and nearly everything we need. I walk on average 2 miles per day!
Plus we live right on a bus line that takes me to our family allotment and many other areas of town.
Did Our Latest Changes Make A Difference?
Well, after four months of living here, I have been able to tally our CO2 emissions using this handy dandy Riot For Austerity calculator. The drum roll please…
The Riot For Austerity divides our usage into 7 categories. Here are our results for each category:
1. Electricity. 90% reduction.
2. Heating & Cooking Fuel. 100% reduction (we don’t use either).
3. Garbage. 94% reduction.
4. Water. 90% reduction.
5. Consumer Goods. 97% reduction (we haven’t bought anything new in a while!).
6. Food. 90-95% reduction. (The Riot calculates this differently, but we are on target).
7. Transportation. 88% reduction.
Yeehaw! Ok, 88% isn’t 90%, but considering that we’re 100% in other areas, I think it’s pretty darn fine.
So there you have it, folks. Since we left Los Angeles a little over a year ago, we have dropped our CO2 emissions by about 50%. You can do it, too!
I know it sounds difficult to some of you, but just remember to do the best you can and keep working at it. It is important. We are changing the world, whether we like it or not. So let’s change it in a positive direction. We can make a difference with our actions. One step at a time!!