Five Percent: Conserve Energy

Climate Change Is Important: Energy Conservation is the First Step

The Mission of Five Percent

January, 2010: I haven’t read this since I wrote it in 2005, when I started this blog. A lot has changed indeed, both in my life and career, and in the world. We’ll see what the world looks like in another five years, but here’s the original mission. Not bad, eh?. One thing remains unchanged, however, the name still sucks :-)

The (Original) Mission of Five Percent

You can change the world by making small changes. You don’t need to march on Washington. You don’t need to turn your heat down to 55 degrees in the winter. All light does not need to come from compact fluorescent bulbs.

Indeed, even if you did all of these, you might find that you’re missing some of the more important changes you can make right now. You can easily and painlessly reduce your consumption by a small amount, say five percent, and make a difference.

I sometimes feel like we’re inexorably headed towards some sort of major crash. Perhaps it will come from global warming. Maybe the destruction of species or food sources will do it. Maybe we’ll get ourselves in a bind in a war that just happens to be where there’s a lot of oil left. Maybe rising fuel prices will stall the economy and shift the global balance of power…

But these are really useless, negative and pointless thoughts. I could do nothing and just try not to let it bother me. Or I could get really involved and try to make a big difference.

But for now, neither of these is happening. I am firmly ensconced in my middle-class life, married, with children, a fine job and doing all the things you do in life. Sorry, I care, but I don’t have a lot of spare energy or time.

And as I thought about it, I realized that I am probably like a lot of people: concerned, but not really sure if there’s anything I can do.

Well, there is something we can all do. We can do it now, and it requires hardly any sacrifice: we can all reduce our consumption by just a little. And oh, by the way, while we’re doing this, we can become a little more informed.

So my wife and I have started finding ways to reduce our consumption. At first we focused on consumption of energy like heating fuel, gas, and electricity. But as we became informed, it has become clear that these are important tangible and measurable elements, but certainly not the only (painless) changes we can make.

We’re seeing that consumption of just about anything is strongly correlated with energy. So while the main idea here is to find ways to reduce the amount of energy we use, there are some surprising ways that one can do that. Like eating your vegetables.

So here’s a blog. It’s the right medium for reporting on our progress and things we find out. To the best of my ability I’ll try to avoid being preachy or let my (liberal) biases show through. Instead I’ll offer some information about things we have done, some little things, some larger that should reduce the amount (of energy) we consume.

I think the ideas are practical. But even if they are not practical for you, know that little changes, even just a five percent reduction, can make a rather big difference.