Our Planet is Gasping for Breath! Here’s a fourth remedy that just about everyone can execute!

The solution for this Blog is going to ask you to GET SMART! In this case you GET SMART by buying a SMART THERMOSTAT!  Thermostats are ‘Mission Control’ for space heating and cooling. Smart thermostats use algorithms and sensors to become more energy efficient over time, thus, lowering emissions.  Residential energy use for heating and cooling amounts to 9% of energy consumption in the United States!  At present, the majority of thermostats require manual operation or preset programming, and studies show that people are notoriously unreliable in doing either efficiently. Smart thermostats eliminate the capriciousness of human behavior, thereby driving more predictable energy savings.

How can such a little thing as a thermostat make a difference?  The Project Drawdown folks have projected the following:

“We project that the number of smart thermostats could grow from 3 percent to 58-63 percent of households with Internet access by 2050. In this scenario, 1,453-1,589 million homes would have them. This reduced energy use could avoid 7.0-7.4 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions for an initial investment of $155-172 billion. Return on this investment is high: smart thermostats can save their owners $1.8-2.1 trillion on utility bills over the lifetime of the units.”

More specifically, the average household savings looks like this: average heating costs are reduced by 10% to 12%, while cooing costs are reduced by 15%.  Generally, therefor, the thermostat will pay itself off in less than 2 years.

The first smart thermostat came to market in 2011, developed by a team of former iPhone engineers who saw an opportunity to bring smartphone thinking to the antiquated temperature controls in homes. Thanks to algorithms and sensors, next-generation thermostats learn over time by gathering and analyzing data. You can still turn the temperature up and down, but these devices will remember your choices and memorize your routines—adapting to the dynamic nature of day-to-day living.

Smart thermostats detect occupancy, learn inhabitants’ preferences, and nudge users toward more efficient behavior. The newest technologies also integrate demand response; they can reduce consumption at times of peak energy use, peak prices, and peak emissions. The net effect: Residences are more energy efficient, more comfortable, and less costly to operate.

A typical list of Important features and benefits of smart thermostats is below:

  • The thermostat works with the wi-fi in the home to allow the settings to be controlled from anywhere at any time. For example, to warm the home before you get there!
  • The thermostat will also “learn” when you come and go and thereby change its settings to and from Eco Settings while you are away or returning.
  • It will report your energy history to you daily and monthly
  • With the purchase of one or more additional room sensors, you can specify which rooms should be at a specific temperature and a specific time.

So, for as low as $98 to several $100, you can have a nice cozy house, AND, reduce your carbon footprint.  Here’s an opportunity to actually Do Something to help the climate and yourself! In both instances, the rewards are large.  You save money and live in comfort, and the atmosphere has a lot less harmful carbon.

In fact, we recently installed a smart thermostat in our office and here is the result for April and May.  It clearly works!

Our Planet is Gasping for Breath! Here’s a third remedy that we’re all becoming familiar with!

The  solution for this 3rd Blog has to do with our TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS. Why?  Because Project Drawdown states that “adding all of the transportation systems together they are responsible for 14% of the  greenhouse emissions!


The key question, as posed by Project Drawdown, is, “How can we support our mobility, but end its dependency on petroleum?”  The answers are; find alternatives, create fuel efficiency, and electrification.

Here are two examples of what this can mean.  Again, according to Project Drawdown, “currently the Trucking Industry consumes 25% of the fuel we use, using 550 billion gallons of diesel fuel each year. Worldwide, it is responsible for 6% of all emissions, and that number is growing!  Working on this venue could reduce emissions by 4.61-9.7 gigatons and ultimately save the industry $3.5-6.1 trillion on fuel costs over truck lifetimes!”

Electric cars, (such as my Prius Plug-in Hybrid, which recently gave me 3,700 miles over 15 months on one fuel fill-up purchased on December 15, 2019) will similarly reduce emissions. Project Drawdown’s estimate of electric car fuel reduction is 11.87-15.68 gigatons and an ultimate saving of $15.30-21.82 Trillion in fuel costs.

Our collective job, as citizens of our ‘global village’ is to shift our attention to the following: Public and pooled mass transit (making more seats available), enhanced mechanical improvements, greater fuel efficiency, and improvements such as lightweighting, better overall design and more artful operational features. 

Transportation is crucial to our personal and work lives.  However, it is now clear that we must make its use a positive force for our climate!  The truth is that without making these changes we are creating the forces for our own demise and the demise of all of our flora and fauna!   We each have to decide what our role in this effort is going to be.  Looking again at the list of Project Drawdown’s transportation projects, there is certainly something there for all of us!

This post is part of a series on Project Drawdown, which conducts an ongoing review and analysis of climate solutions—the practices and technologies that can stem and begin to reduce the excess of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. Learn more about how you can take action at https://www.drawdown.org/solutions

Our Planet is Gasping for Breath: Here’s a remedy that is certainly different!

Issue # 2 February 2021: Reduce Food Waste to sequester Gigatons of CO2!

This is a remarkable statement in a world that is chronically food insecure! In today’s world, especially during this current Pandemic, getting adequate nutrition to the people who need it is a major job! Churches and schools have become food storage facilities while food banks and supermarkets are offering outdated items to the hungry at greatly reduced prices.

However, in spite of the need there is a huge amount of food wasted. Project Drawdown estimates that approximately one third of the food available does not make it to the people who really need it! This means that the effort to produce the food is totally wasted, and remarkably, as this waste rots, it produces a tremendous amount of methane creating as much as 8% of the methane produced each year worldwide. Lastly, as you will see below, food waste means water waste as well. The two issues combine.

In the last post in this series, we learned that in 2019 the UN estimated that 821 million people were chronically hungry. And yet, food is rotting all along the entire food supply chain! As usual, these harms are not felt equally, as poorer countries typically experience involuntary waste, from food rotting in the fields, spoiling during transport or storage, or other factors that are earlier in the supply chain. In richer countries, like here in the US, this waste occurs later in the supply chain, which is where we as consumers have more ability to make a difference!

The Scope of the Problem

Let’s look at the size of this problem with some statistics. The USDA estimates that in 2021, 31% of all of food produced will be lost, which will amount to 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food. That amounts to 219 pounds of waste per person, and 30 to 40% of the US food supply.  Also, as mentioned above, the wasted food directly creates wasted water. The World Resources Institute estimates that food waste is accompanied by 45 trillion gallons of water which is to 24% of all water used for agriculture.  These four facts; hungry people, rotting food, wasted water, and methane production, combine to make a very worrisome problem for our planet and the people living on it.

What can we do?

The first step in solving these problems is awareness of them, especially when one problem becomes three problems!  Awareness, hopefully, will move to the point where we are all doing whatever we can to help!  Let’s all try to use, rather than waste, our food, and buy more produce that isn’t exactly ‘perfect’ – all those blemished veggies just end up in a landfill producing more CO2! Also, we can reduce our portion sizes (I know that I certainly would benefit from this action).  We can also buy what we really need, rather than trying to keep the refrigerator stocked. I personally know that a lot of fruit ends up getting thrown away.  Lastly, composting is a wonderful way to put all  ‘greens’, of all kinds, to work for the greater good!  Our little contributions, collectively, can turn into real gains for people and planet!

This post is part of a series on Project Drawdown, which conducts an ongoing review and analysis of climate solutions—the practices and technologies that can stem and begin to reduce the excess of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. Learn more about how you can take action at https://www.drawdown.org/solutions

Our Planet is Gasping for Breath; Here are some things that are already being done!

Issue # 1:  February, 2021 Abandoned Farmland Restoration


According to Project Drawdown, there are almost half a billion hectares of farmland that have been abandoned due to land degradation. More importantly, they estimate that by 2050 between 189 and 296 million hectares could be restored and converted to regenerative annual cropping. The result would be a lifetime of net profits for farmers and tons of carbon removed from the atmosphere!

This Project Drawdown restoration can mean the return of native vegetation, the establishment of tree plantations, or the introduction of regenerative farming methods.  It represents a lot of hard work, but farming is that way already.  It sure beats the results of walking away from these fields and abandoning them to let them become wastelands!

To establish the importance of doing this remediation, an estimate of the results of this crisis, made by the United Nations in 2019, is that there will be at least 821 million people, or more, on this earth who will be chronically food insecure.  We can only imagine the number of people who will be involved since the Pandemic started! These people are in the middle of a “Perfect Storm!”  Essentially, it looks like this:  crops are failing, people are dying, live stock is dying, transportation to suppliers and buyers is very limited, prices are soaring and incomes are rapidly dropping!

Bringing abandoned lands back into productive use can also turn them into carbon sinks!  What can YOU do?  I would say be aware and look for opportunities to support these ventures. Together we can make a difference which will help all of us!

This post is part of a series on Project Drawdown, which conducts an ongoing review and analysis of climate solutions—the practices and technologies that can stem and begin to reduce the excess of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. Learn more about how you can take action at https://www.drawdown.org/solutions