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Putting Earth first

Ten ways you can help the big blue ball
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Americans will celebrate Earth Day’s 40th anniversary on April 22. That’s four decades of environmental progress, and protests against pollution, toxic dumps, wildlife extinction and other ecological foes. That’s also 40 years of people altering their lifestyles to be better stewards of the earth. Not so fast. The fight against global warming still has a long way to go. Scientists say climate change will cause sea-level rise, changing rainfall patterns, more forest fires, shrinking mountain snowcaps, an increase in ground-level ozone, a spread in infectious diseases and other problems. So before we celebrate, let’s consider 10 ways individuals can help better protect the environment. 1. Ride public transportation. Cars emit more than one-fifth of the United States’ annual carbon-dioxide emissions, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This greenhouse gas contributes to global warming. Reduce the number of miles you travel alone in your car, by carpooling or opting for public transportation. Ride Roseville Transit for $1.50 (general public) or 75 cents (for seniors, disabled or students). For trip-planning assistance, call (916) 774-5757 or visit www.roseville.ca.us/transit. 2. Hop on a bike. Scientists estimate that 15 percent of human-made carbon dioxide in the atmosphere comes from cars, trucks, airplanes, trains and ships, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. In California, transportation accounts for roughly 40 percent of our annual greenhouse-gas emissions, and petroleum-based fuels feed 96 percent of our transportation needs, according to the California Air Resources Board. Put your feet to good use and pedal your way around town. Roseville boasts 83 miles of on-street bike lanes and 27 miles of off-street bike paths. Bicycle route maps and safety brochures are available from the city’s Alternative Transportation Division by calling (916) 774-5293 or e-mailing transportation@roseville.ca.us. 3. Take advantage of Roseville Electric. The utility provider offers several energy-efficiency rebates for businesses and homeowners. You can get a rebate for installing an improved HVAC system, efficient lighting, solar panels and more. Roseville Electric also provides rebates for shade trees, which reduce energy costs, air pollution and the heat-island effect — this effect makes local air temperatures several degrees warmer. For rebate information, visit www.roseville.ca.us/electric. 4. Green your house and office. Buildings use two-thirds of all electricity consumed in the United States, according to the U.S. Green Building Council. Switch to LED lighting and Energy Star appliances. Weatherize your house — this process refers to weatherproofing a building to lower energy consumption and optimise energy efficiency. Have some extra money lying around? Install rooftop solar panels. 5. Change your eating habits. Start by reducing your meat consumption. Worldwide, livestock accounts for 18 percent of all greenhouse-gas emissions. In one year, a single person uses 5,200 gallons of water for showers, yet it takes 5,214 gallons to produce only 1 pound of beef, according to Water Footprint. Now that you’re a vegetarian, grow your own food. Plant a fruit tree and glean its harvest — donate leftovers to the Placer County Food Bank. Or buy organic veggies produced by local farmers. Downtown Roseville’s farmers market starts in May. The nonprofit organization PlacerGrown provides resources on local food. For more information, visit www.placergrown.org. 6. Reduce your consumption. Recycling is great, but the process still wastes energy, so it’s better to consume less in the first place. If you have outdated televisions, computers, radios and other electrical equipment, recycle this e-waste. You can drop off e-waste at the Roseville Utility Exploration Center, at 1501 Pleasant Grove Blvd. 7. Stop using products with toxic chemicals. Most conventional beauty products and cleaning supplies contain synthetic chemicals. Scientists link some of these toxic chemicals to increased risk of breast cancer, prostrate cancer, birth defects, developmental disabilities and other chronic illnesses and diseases. Buy natural personal-care products without phthalates, parabens, formaldehyde, artificial dyes or fragrances. Make your own household-cleaning products from vinegar and baking soda. 8. Fight coal. As demonstrated by the recent death of 29 coal miners in West Virginia, coal remains an unsafe and outdated source of energy. The coal industry often uses mountaintop removal, a practice that requires clear-cutting forests and blasting hundreds of feet off the top of a mountain. The leftover soil fills adjacent valleys and pollutes nearby streams. Advocate instead for clean-energy sources, such as solar, wind and geothermal. 9. Demand climate legislation. The Central Intelligence Agency and Department of Defense both agree that climate change threatens our national security. Demand that Congress passes comprehensive climate legislation to stop our country’s dependence on foreign oil, develop a clean-energy economy and build a green-collar workforce. 10. Teach your children. Youth will comprise the environmental movement’s future. Start educating them now with a visit to the Roseville Utility Exploration Center. The center focuses on energy efficiency, renewable technology, water conservation and recycling, while teaching kids and adults about the choices we can all make to live a more sustainable lifestyle. For information, visit www.roseville.ca.us/explore. Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. ---------- Major milestones since the first Earth Day April 22, 1970: U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson calls for a nationwide environmental protest and 22 million Americans participate. The first Earth Day occurs. December 2, 1970: The Nixon administration starts the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. December 7, 1972: The crew of Apollo 17 takes the “Blue Marble” photograph, and we see planet Earth. December 28, 1973: President Richard Nixon signs the Endangered Species Act. In following years, Congress passes the Clean Water Act and strengthens the Clean Air Act. March 28, 1979: Three Mile Island nuclear power plant has a partial core meltdown. Americans begin opposing nuclear energy. October 14, 1979: Greenpeace forms to protest whaling, the destruction of old-growth forests and nuclear power. April 22, 1990: More than 200 million people in 141 countries participate in Earth Day celebrations. December 10, 1997: Julia “Butterfly” Hill climbs into a California coast redwood tree to prevent its destruction. She climbs down two years later. August, 2006: Al Gore’s "An Inconvenient Truth" hits theaters, drawing widespread attention to the climate crisis. December 11, 2007: Kyoto Protocol commemorates its 10th anniversary. The United States refuses to ratify the international treaty. February 16, 2009: The Obama administration pours billions of dollars into clean-energy development through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. ---------- City of Roseville’s Celebrate the Earth festival takes place 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today, at Mahany Regional Park, 1501 Pleasant Grove Blvd. in Roseville. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.roseville.ca.us/explore.