A Meme for the Climate Movement

and my answers.

  • Where are you sitting? At my office.
  • Is it air conditioned? Heated? Never air-conditioned, but not heated either at the moment.
  • Are the air conditioner and furnace high efficiency models? Oh god no. The opposite.
  • Are there lights on? Yes.
  • What kind are they? Long-tube fluorescent, compact fluorescent.
  • Where does the electricity come from? J.E. Corette Station in Billings
  • Is it a coal plant? Yes.
  • Where does the coal come from? Montana and Wyoming strip mines
  • Do you know what a strip mine looks like? Yes. (If you don’t, stop here and go to Coaldiver.org.)
  • Do you know how many million tons of greenhouse gases your coal plant produces every year? 1-2, ballpark?
  • When was it built? 1968
  • Does it have modern pollution controls? No.
  • Are there windows in the room you’re in? Yes, one.
  • When were they installed? Well before I was born – 1950s maybe?
  • Are the windows high efficiency or begging for caulking and weatherproofing? The latter.
  • How many electrical items do you have plugged in? 3
  • What are they?  Laptop, desk lamp, desktop fountain (but I just unplugged the printer, shredder and pencil sharpener, and I usually have my phone plugged in.)
  • How many kilowatt hours does your home consume each month (this is on your electric bill)? On average, year round, from 4-500 kW a month up to over 1000 kW (we heat with electricity).
  • Is your attic well-insulated? The home inspector said it is.
  • Is the space where your first floor meets your foundation well-insulated? Yes, sewed up tight.
  • Do you have insulation on your hot water pipes? Yes.
  • Are your home windows energy efficient? Some of them.
  • Do you have a programmable thermostat? We’re getting one – with electric baseboard heat, we need 12.
  • Do you use any forms of renewable energy at home? Solar water pump in the pond; solar laptop bag; passive solar construction; also wood-burning fireplace, if that counts.
  • What kind of car do you drive (primarily, if you have more than one)? Toyota Corolla (Alternative question: if you don’t have a car, what kind of bikes do you have?)
  • What’s the best mileage you’ve ever gotten out of it? 40 mpg, with a tailwind
  • What fuel does it use? Gasoline, sometimes 10% ethanol.
  • Where does that fuel come from? Around here, it may be the local refineries.
  • Do you know the annual greenhouse gas emissions from your tailpipe? No clue.
  • Do you regularly use any forms of green transportation (public transport, carpooling, biking, walking, etc.)? Biking and walking most days.
  • How often do you fly? Usually at least once a month.

This could go on and on. My answers aren’t great. I’m trying to contract my carbon footprint day by day, getting a little better here and there. There are things I can fix. I’m working with the owners of the building where my office is to reduce overall energy use and replace the big energy hogs like the old boiler. But there’s so much more I could be doing, and I’m one of the people who understand the stakes.

So my focus – my personal little climate movement – is to get the log out of my own eye. I’m going to green my house, my office, my town, my county, and my state, and if my country still needs work at that point, we’ll be a lot farther along than we are now. If every one of us did that, we would wake up to a new world.

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5 Responses to A Meme for the Climate Movement

  1. claseur says:

    In response to the first question that came up about this post, yes I actually did mean “meme” – see the Wikipedia definition:

    It’s kind of an aspirational term, something you hope other people will pick up on and use themselves.

  2. Worldview says:


    A friend we share was praising Plains Justice for its great work and passed along your blog post by way of introduction. I liked it so much I’ve tweeted it through the CIEL site. Thought you might like to have a look at our new blog as well. http://intlenvlaw.wordpress.com/

    Carroll Muffett
    Center for International Environmental Law

  3. Doug Wagner says:

    It doesn’t matter if it’s at the household level or the industrial level, there are so many who don’t take the time to investigate where they could be saving energy and money. Those pennies add up…and when you’re talking about a utility, the pennies of each of their customers means big money and the difference between saving enough energy to delay the construction of a new power plant.
    It may sound silly, but part of the reason I’ve been working on losing weight is because I won’t need as much air conditioning! <|:-)

  4. claseur says:

    @Doug: But then you’ll need more heat!

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