Resolutions for a New Millennium
Save the Natives
Most people know about exotic endangered animals like the black rhino. But there may be endangered species in your own backyard, like the American burying beetle and the Preble's meadow jumping mouse.
Garden for wildlife. Plant native shrubs and trees that provide food and shelter for birds and other creatures. Put up bat houses, birdhouses, and birdbaths. Read "Going Native," July-August 1999 (also at http://magazine.audubon.org/backyard/native.html).
Stop invaders. Some 5,000 nonindigenous plants are ousting native species in the United States. Although some are quite beautiful, these invasive weeds are overrunning about 1.7 million acres of wildlife habitat each year.
Keep it common. Don't keep exotic pets or buy products made from endangered species. See the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species list at www.wcmc.org.uk/cites/english/index.html.
Eat good veggies. Buy organic produce. Read "The Organic Revolution," March-April 1999 (also at http://magazine.audubon.org/organic).
Get out of the sun. Buy shade-grown coffee, which helps preserve rainforests and provide vital habitat for migratory songbirds. The Rainforest Alliance provides a list of certified coffee suppliers (call 212-677-1900 or visit www.rainforest-alliance.org/programs/cap/index.html).
Don't be fishy. Avoid eating swordfish and other overfished species. Read the "Guide to Seafood," May-June 1998 (also at http://magazine.audubon.org/seafood/).
Get political. Support legislation such as the Endangered Species Act; vote for local bonds that protect open space in your area; and attend your town's planning-board meetings.
Pay your tax. If it's offered in your state, check off the option on your income tax form to contribute money to protect nongame species.
Toot your horn. Buy a license plate that donates money to wildlife programs in your state. The plate also sends a conservation message to other drivers. Contact your Division of Motor Vehicles. -Gretel H. Schueller
Excess amounts of heat-trapping gases such as carbon dioxide are flooding the atmosphere. Global mean surface temperatures have risen from 0.6 to 1.2 degrees F since the late 19th century. Here are seven ways to beat the heat.
Be energy-efficient. The biggest energy drains in the home are refrigerators, water heaters, air conditioners, washers, and dryers. Ten large power plants could be eliminated if every U.S. household had the most energy-efficient refrigerator available. When buying appliances, look for the EPA/Department of Energy's new Energy Star label, which means that product uses less energy than others. See www.energystar.gov for information.
Turn off lights. For each kilowatt-hour of electricity produced, more than a pound of carbon dioxide is emitted. Install timers or movement sensors, which switch off lights automatically when they're not in use. And change to fluorescent light bulbs. A compact fluorescent lasts 10,000 hours longer than a regular incandescent bulb, and over the course of its lifetime keeps more than half a ton of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.
Adjust your thermostat. American home heating systems dump more than a billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air each year. Turning down your thermostat even 2 degrees will prevent the release of 500 pounds of carbon dioxide over the course of a year. Save more energy by getting your furnace tuned up so it runs more efficiently and by insulating your home-you may be wasting up to 50 percent of the fuel you burn.
Don't drive a gas guzzler. A vehicle driven 11,000 miles a year emits its own weight in carbon dioxide. Or look at it another way: For every gallon of gasoline burned, 20 pounds of carbon dioxide spews into the air. Each year more carbon-dioxide pollution is produced by cars and trucks in the United States than by the entire nation of Japan. To pick out a fuel-efficient vehicle, check out The Green Guide to Cars and Trucks from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (202-429-0781; www.aceee.org/greenercars/).
Avoid short car trips. A car emits 40 percent more carbon dioxide per mile when it's run with a cold engine. Better yet, walk, bike, or use public transportation whenever you can.
Plant a tree. Plants remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, produce oxygen, and provide shade. The National Arbor Day Foundation (402-474-5655; http://arborday.org) can provide you with tree-planting tips and information.
Use green power. In a deregulated electricity market, you'll be able to choose the kind of power you use for the first time. Renewable energy-power from sun, wind, and moving water-creates little or no air pollution. For instance, if all U.S. rooftops were covered with solar shingles, they could supply half to three-quarters of the country's energy needs. If you live in a state where the electricity market is already deregulated, check out Green-e's web site (www.green-e.org) to find out where you can buy green power. -Gretel H. Schueller
To lighten the load on the earth, we need to lower the birth rate and reduce consumption. Here are some ways to change your own life-and to get your government to change, too.
Push condoms. Currently, some 350 million couples worldwide have no access to family-planning programs. Urge your congressmembers to fund international education and family-planning programs. Support organizations such as the National Audubon Society's Population and Habitat Campaign (800-741-9658; www.earthnet.net/~popnet) and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (800-669-0156; www.plannedparenthood.org).
Educate women. Education and economic independence are crucial factors in reducing the number of children born per woman. Support organizations such as UNIFEM, the United Nations Development Fund for Women (212-906-6400; www.unifem.undp.org) and the Centre for Development and Population Activities, which focuses on women (202-667-1142; www.cedpa.org).
Eat beans. A vegetarian diet is much easier on the planet than one that's heavy in animal products. Nearly half the water consumed in this country and 70 percent of the grain grown is used for livestock, mostly cattle. It takes almost 16 pounds of grass and grain to produce one pound of beef. If the land on which grain is grown were used to grow, say, black beans instead, it would generate 10 to 20 times as much protein.
Ride a bike. And then push your local government to make it easy. In bicycle-friendly Davis and Palo Alto, California, more than 20 percent of all trips are made by bicycle; for the nation as a whole, it's 0.67 percent. To help make your area fit for bikes, use the "tools of the month" on the Transportation Action Network web site (www.transact.org).
Buy less. Focus on experiences, not things. Don't buy on impulse. Consult organizations such as Redefining Progress (415-781-1191; www.rprogress.org), which defines the nation's health in terms of quality of life, not just economic growth; and the Center for a New American Dream (877-683-7326; www.newdream.org), which helps people and businesses reduce their consumption to improve their lives. Learn about the voluntary simplicity movement, which promotes living with less physical and mental clutter in order to conserve more of the earth's resources (www.awakeningearth.org/simplicity.html).
Make noise. Support candidates who have specific proposals to protect the environment. Push for taxes on environmentally harmful activities. Ask about environmental issues in candidate forums, and write letters to the editor. Support the "green scissors" movement to eliminate wasteful, environmentally destructive federal programs (Taxpayers for Common Sense: 800-829-7293; www.taxpayer.net). Ask the League of Conservation Voters how your congressmembers score on green issues (888-744-8683; www.lcv.org). -Mary-Powel Thomas