Archive for August, 2012

131 years of global warming in 26 seconds

Have 26 seconds? Watch how global temperatures have changed between 1880 and 2011.

From the August 6, 2012 blog posting on Climate Central

While temperatures have been blistering this summer, this video takes the longer historical view. It comes to us from our friends at NASA and is an amazing 26-second animation depicting how temperatures around the globe have warmed since 1880. That year is what scientists call the beginning of the “modern record.” You’ll note an acceleration of those temperatures in the late 1970s as greenhouse gas emissions from energy production increased worldwide and clean air laws reduced emissions of pollutants that had a cooling effect on the climate, and thus were masking some of the global warming signal. The data come from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, which monitors global surface temperatures. As NASA notes, “in this animation, reds indicate temperatures higher than the average during a baseline period of 1951-1980, while blues indicate lower temperatures than the baseline average.”

Friday fun: Dance walk, baby!

This is perhaps the least energy-efficient mode of two-legged transportation there is, but boy does it look fun. Happy Friday everyone!

Shower shock

At my house this week we finally took advantage of the home water use efficiency evaluation service, offered free of charge by our county’s water district. It was an eye-opener!

Shower shock
We learned a lot about our water usage, and I was pretty amazed at how many gallons we use each day. Two people + 1 cat + small lawn = 250 gallons of water per day, on average. Wow. The biggest shock-eroo for me was that our shower head was pumping a whopping three gallons per minute. I had no idea. Apparently we are not alone. According to an article in Grist today, showers typically account for 17 percent of indoor household water use. The second biggest shock: our single greatest use of household energy by far was also the shower — the cost of hot water really adds up. Again, we’re not alone. According to the same article in Grist, indoor hot water use accounts for 15 percent of the average household’s energy budget. Holy cow.

Cost savings
Our friendly water-use evaluator gave us a new shower head for free. Just swapping to that new shower head has reduced the flow from 3 gallons per minute down to 1.5 gallons per minute. We were worried about whether less water meant a less enjoyable shower, but there was no detectable difference in our showering experience — great pressure, plenty of water, no problem. We’ll also experiment with turning the water temperature down a little bit. We are looking forward to checking next month’s water bill to see whether this change will translate into cost savings.

It got us to thinking about whether there are other simple changes we could do to save money on our utility bills. Hmmm…..

Teachers: try this with your students
What if you could make a science or math lesson out of a simple home resource use experiment like the one I’ve described above? Consider signing up for The Green Ninja Project’s  Smart Energy Contest.  It’s a fun and easy project kids can do at home themselves that will teach them a lot about the connection between their daily activities and the amount of energy they use. And, they might even end up saving their parents some money on their monthly utility bills. Your students can even win cool prizes like a pizza party for their class or having a tree planted in their name, among others. When you sign up, you also get some great gear to help you teach the lesson. If you try it, tell us! We’d love to hear about your experiences.

–Julie Noblitt, Green Ninja Team

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