Save the planet: ride a bus

Unless you’re of the same mind as Rick Perry, you’re probably concerned about global climate change induced by human behavior — namely, the incessant belching of CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. And while many people try to do little things to reduce our collective role in this worsening problem, many ask a reasonable question: how much difference can I make? What’s the significance of the actions of one person, or even a neighborhood or city, in making meaningful progress towards reducing emissions? The answer may surprise you.

Reading an old letter written in the midst of the heated debate over the Southwest Transitway Light Rail route choice brought back this fascinating bit of trivia, based on data and analysis from the U.S. Department of Energy, the Census Bureau, and Metro Transit:

If 10 percent of those who drive alone to work from Uptown every day switched to a zero-emission mode, that choice would reduce CO2 emissions in the area by 1.5 million pounds per year. This is more than the entire country of Afghanistan produces in a year. Making the switch from driving alone to riding a bus still saves almost a million pounds of CO2–not to mention other gases and pollutants–from being emitted into the air we breathe.

In a part of the city where only one-fifth of commuters choose transit and a majority drive alone to work, our choices are much more significant than one might think. Go get a bus pass. Gaia will appreciate it.