Easy Ways to Help the Environment

I recently read a book on Elon Musk, in which one of the motivations behind SpaceX is revealed. That motivation is, that given that Earth might soon become uninhabitable for humans because of several reasons, we must make it easy and inexpensive to travel to other planets, with a view to eventually colonizing them. That motivation appeals to me a lot, although unfortunately for the foreseeable future I’m not going to be directly involved in any such endeavor.

Continuing this train of thought, one of the reasons contributing to the unsuitability of our home planet to sustain life any further is of course climate change. I also read Unstoppable where Bill Nye (the Science Guy) does a marvelous job of explaining how to use technology for a cleaner environment, at the same time debunking detractors and elucidating why the topic is so important. Finally, Arnold Schwarzenegger recently wrote something vehement urging people to take serious action toward ‘terminating’ climate change.

All these factors made me start looking for ways in which I can contribute every day toward the betterment of our Pale Blue Dot. It wasn’t difficult. I came upon 50 Ways to Help, a beautiful compilation of no-brainers that people can incorporate into their everyday lives in order to make a difference. While some of the suggestions aren’t very practical for my particular profession (e.g., if I shut my computers down every night instead of putting them to sleep/ hibernate, I’d be spending a ton of time every morning bringing them back to the state they were in the previous night in terms of applications open, programs running, etc. Also, I walk to work, and everything else is too far/ too inconvenient to bike, and I can’t use a bike for groceries etc.), most of them are very easy to implement.

As it stands, for now I’m resolved to regularly do the following, as my way of saying ‘thank you’ to our home in the Cosmos:

Use CFLs, don’t rinse dishes before putting them into the dishwasher, recycle as much as possible (was already doing this), eat only vegetarian some days, only launder full loads in the machine, launder on cold or warm (not hot), use fewer paper napkins, use both sides of paper, use reusable water and coffee containers, take shorter showers, take fewer baths, brush teeth without running water, use cruise control, occasionally buy second hand mechanical and electric equipment, buy local (to reduce fuel and pollution needed to get you the stuff), keep vehicles maintained, de-clutter and donate, use e-tickets, prefer downloads over compact disks (who uses optical disks anymore anyway), and go paperless

Earth is our home. And for the foreseeable future, given the current state of technology, our only home in the Cosmos. For better or for worse, Isaac Asimov’s Foundation-level civilizations spreading across galaxies, where space travel is the norm rather than the exception, do not exist, and aren’t likely to exist for a very, very, very long time to come. As Bill Nye would say, let’s treat the planet as our owned house, and not as a rental apartment. Let’s take good care of it. Only good things can come out of a pledge to do something about climate change right now, and we can all make contributions without changing much in our everyday lives.

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