A new book by award-winning science writer and Daily Planet host Jay Ingram explores the efforts of everyday individuals — extreme and otherwise — to reduce their carbon footprint and work toward addressing the warming of the world.
The Daily Planet Book of Cool Ideas (Penguin Canada) is an adaptation of a weeklong series that originally aired on the Discovery Channel program in March 2007.
Global Warning: A Daily Planet Special Series examined what could be done to reverse global warming and steps that some people were taking to create a sustainable future.
“The point is to get people thinking out of the box,” said Drennan. “It’s not just insulate your basement or buy a smaller, more fuel-efficient car, but it’s to really think differently about just about everything.”
“I think in the long run it’s about more than global warming,” he added.”It’s really about (the fact that) by 2050 they’re going to be nine billion people on the planet, and if we haven’t learned to be more sustainable in every single way then it’s going to be miserable.”
Ingram said the book also delves into other issues that weren’t explored in the series, such as environmentally sustainable housing.
It includes details on a “net-zero” home in Edmonton where the harnessing of solar energy allows it to give back as much electricity to the grid as it draws over the course of a year.
It also features profiles of a woman in her mid-80s who uses a solar oven, and a 16-year-old student and part-time lifeguard who converted his dad’s pickup truck into a plug-in electric vehicle.
“There’s a tremendous amount of inventiveness out there that isn’t necessarily at a university or a research institute, and we like to tap into that for the show, and I think that’s really important in talking about what can we do about global warming,” Ingram said.
“Governments can sort of set an agenda, or not, as they choose, and I think the action ultimately is really going, to a large extent, come down to individuals making decisions.”
While advocates have pressed political leaders to make the environment a central issue in the federal election campaign, turbulent times on the financial markets have been getting more attention in recent weeks.
A collective of economists teaching at Canadian universities and a group of climate scientists, respectively, signed two separate open letters this week pressing for political action on climate change.
The letter from more than 120 climate scientists said that many may not realize that even if atmospheric greenhouse gases were stabilized immediately at current levels, “the Arctic would still go ice free in the summer, between 10 per cent and 25 per cent of the world’s species would still be committed to extinction, and weather will continue to become more extreme.”
Ingram said while there are many people who may want to do something to combat climate change, there are “hundreds of thousands” who simply don’t care.
How to move those people, he said, will be an issue.
For some, Ingram said the appeal of green living may be more centred around a potential financial incentive.
“What would be better than living off the grid? Hydro prices go up or down and you don’t even care? I mean, that sounds fabulous to me,” he said.
“It doesn’t have to be altruistic — ‘I want to be a better citizen of planet Earth’ — but just ‘I want to keep more money for myself.’ It seems to me that green acting is the way to go.”
Ingram said it’s also essential for industry to take a leadership role, and that there has to be an interlocking system in which governments punish companies that aren’t sustainable by taxing them.