I happened to catch up on the widely acclaimed movie by Al Gore, a couple of days back. I have been quite sensitive about environmental issues since my college days & have been an active Greenpeace India member for the last 5 years. But then, this is something I had definitely not bargained for….if this is how we keep on abusing our fragile planet, Doomsday is not very far off!!

Former Vice-President of the US, Al Gore brilliantly portrays the damage we human beings have already done & are continuing to do to the environment. What is even more unnerving is the absolute lack of political will across countries to do something about it!! To start off with, here are a few pointers as to how we can try & bring about some change to mitigate the impact. Remember, the old adage, “Charity begins at home!”

#1 Replace a regular incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb – CFLs use 60% less energy than a regular bulb. This simple switch will save about 300 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

#2 Clean or replace filters on your air conditioner – Cleaning a dirty air filter can save 350 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

#3 Wrap your water heater in an insulation blanket – You’ll save 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year with this simple action. You can save another 550 pounds per year by setting the thermostat no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

#4 Turn off electronic devices you’re not using – Simply turning off your television, DVD player, stereo, and computer when you’re not using them will save you thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

#5 Unplug electronics from the wall when you’re not using them – Even when turned off, things like hairdryers, cell phone chargers and televisions use energy. In fact, the energy used to keep display clocks lit and memory chips working accounts for 5 percent of total domestic energy consumption and spews 18 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere every year!

#6 Plant a tree – A single tree will absorb one ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime. Shade provided by trees can also reduce your air conditioning bill by 10 to 15%.

#7 Avoid heavily packaged products – You can save 1,200 pounds of carbon dioxide if you cut down your garbage by 10%.

#8 Keep your car tuned up – Regular maintenance helps improve fuel efficiency and reduces emissions. When just 1% of car owners properly maintain their cars, nearly a billion pounds of carbon dioxide are kept out of the atmosphere.

#9 Check your tires weekly to make sure they’re properly inflated – Proper inflation can improve gas mileage by more than 3%. Since every gallon of gasoline saved keeps 20 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, every increase in fuel efficiency makes a difference!

#10 When it is time for a new car, choose a more fuel efficient vehicle – You can save 3,000 pounds of carbon dioxide every year if your new car gets only 3 miles per gallon more than your current one. You can get up to 60 miles per gallon with a hybrid!

Developing countries like India are & will continue to be the worst affected by the impact of global warming. It’s high time, we responsible citizens do something about this. For starters, I would suggest people to watch the movie & be better informed about the catastrophe that is gradually unwinding itself.

For people addicted to the internet, here is something what you can do. Check out www.climateprediction.net . This is  the world’s largest climate forecasting experiment wherein the power of the internet is most effectively harnessed. In layman’s terms – you get to donate some amount of your computer processor time & resource to help simulate the climatic models & experiments that are being conducted by the Oxford University’s Department of Atmospheric Physics. Once a person is registered with them, you get to install a software & based on your computer configuration some amount of work is assigned to your machine. You do not have to do anything, while your computer is in use the simulation is being carried out in the back end. At the end of a stipulated period of time, the work done on your computer is uploaded on the servers at their end & you get to earn credit points. Not that it matters much tangibly, but then you get to do your own small bit for this gargantuan endeavor. I was quite appalled to see only 171 users from India who have signed up for this. In a country of a billion people & where internet penetration is quite high in the urban areas, I am sure we can do better than this.

Let’s all give it our best shot before it’s too little, too late! Adios!!