Texans bear a special responsibility for the problem of climate change. Texas emits so much carbon that if it were a nation, it would be the 7th largest emitter of carbon in the world. China’s per capita carbon emissions is 5.5 metric tons per person; the US per capita carbon emissions is 23.5 metric tons per person. Texas per capita carbon emissions is 27.9 metric tons per person. Texas overwhelmingly emits more carbon than any state in the US by a longshot. 676 million metric tons, vs. 402 million metric tons for California (even though California has 35 million people and Texas has 24 million people). In other words, Texas is Ground Zero for this impending climate change disaster.
However, there are fairly easy steps you can take to minimize your carbon footprint. The first and most important step is to switch power companies to a 100% renewable source or to request that your electric company put you on a windpower plan. In Houston and Dallas, the price of 100% renewable energy plans on www.powertochoose.org are comparable to the typical energy plans (which involve a mix of coal and natural gas). At worst, the cost of 100% renewable energy plans are 5% more expensive than nonrenewable plans. In San Antonio (which has a city utility which provides electricity), the cost of 100% windpower is about 10-15% more expensive than the coal/natural gas/nuclear.
Starting on January, 2010, I have decided to be completely carbon neutral — that means to make my net carbon emissions to be zero. I will accomplish this with certain lifestyle changes — which I do NOT expect to disrupt my lifestyle in any major way – and purchase carbon offsets on the free market to compensate for the carbon I have used (with my car for example). I know the criticisms of carbon offsets — I have done my research, and I know how to purchase carbon offsets intelligently. Anyway, we ought to start placing a price on carbon; that is simply making polluters to pay the true cost that their pollution has on the environment.
Deciding to be carbon neutral means being more aware of the impact of your lifestyle choices. What is the carbon footprint of driving a car or eating a hamburger or flying to another state or ordering online? I’m quickly learning that to be carbon neutral, you need to be a good accountant; you need to keep good records (and I plan to keep my records on a Google Docs spreadsheet). I will try to describe my progress towards attaining this goal on my weblog — as well as the challenges.