News & Events Categories

News & Events Yearly Archive

Save Your Energy for the Oceans

About six months ago, I wrote a blog entry about how carbon emissions to the air aren’t just causing global warming — enough of them wash out into the oceans as carbonic acid that they’re destroying our beloved coral reefs, too.

I am still on the case to find out how we can stop this double devastation from happening.

Guess where my detective work has led me now—to those big ugly black bricks (OK some of them are white) that power up all our lovely laptops and iPods and cell phones.

And not just chargers, but the rest of the “always-on” gadgets in our houses—microwave oven clocks, computer fans and displays (yes, even pretty screensavers), and all those TVs and DVD players always waiting for our remote control commands.

What do our chargers and blinking gadgets have to do with coral reef destruction? A lot—since I found out that together these “vampire” energy-users are sucking up to 10% of the power used in a typical home. And more power use in America means more carbon. Over half of our electricity still comes from burning coal in big polluting power plants that have never had to fully live up to the Clean Air Act.

OK, so what now? While unfortunately the reefs are struggling to survive, we do know there’s plenty we can do about it just by making simple changes in our habits that wind up being cheaper and better for us as well as the planet.

Almost everything we do takes energy, including studying on our computers, turning on the lights, and heating our lunch in the microwave. One-fifth of the total energy consumed in the United States each year comes from household energy use.

But did you know that 80% of the energy used by your microwave is used just keeping the clock on?

Getting rid of the vampire power that’s consumed when appliances are turned off or are not being used is a great place to start. Wear a watch, and put your microwave on a power strip so you can turn it off when it’s not being used! In fact, by unplugging items such as your phone chargers, computers, televisions, radios, DVD players, and hair dryers when you are not using them, you can help save energy and protect oceans from those nasty carbon emissions that are damaging our ecosystem.

Go on your own exploration to find out how much energy is wasted in your own home and schools by visiting the home page of Environmental Education Week (EE Week), which is a program of the National Environmental Education and Training Foundation held the week before Earth Day each year. Get more tips and links from the EE Week website on how to conduct an “energy audit” of your home and learn more about where your energy comes from and where it’s going.

I am honored to be this year’s EE Week National Spokesperson. In this role, I’m headed to New York today, where I will visit the New York High School of Environmental Studies—an amazing place where 1,500 students from all five boroughs of New York get to learn everything they need for their diploma through the lens of environmental studies. I’m going to help them discover more about their energy. I’ll write more about that soon.