Warnings about the realities and dangers of global warming have been all over the news for over a decade now, and most of us have paid heed. From learning to recycle, changing the light bulbs in our homes to the compact energy saving fluorescent types, giving up bottled water and going for more eco-friendly cleaners, we have tried to make our lives a bit greener. However, some of the things we have come to believe about conserving our environment are fallacies. Here are the most common myths.
- Appliances do not use power when they are turned off
Not true. Due to a phenomenon known as vampire power (also referred to as energy leaks or standby power), appliances, which have been switched off, continue to use electricity. According to a research carried out at Lawrence Berkley National Museum, it was found that electrical appliances could use between 15-30 watts of electricity while switched off, depending on the type of appliance. This amounts to about 5% of your power bill when all summed up. The best way to conserve energy is to not only switch off the device, but also unplug it all together.
2. Energy conservation and energy efficiency mean the same thing
Energy conservation refers to any activity that results in the use of less energy; say switching off the lights after you leave a room for example. Energy efficient on the other hand refers to any technology that is in a device that performs the same task but uses less energy to do so. Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs are a perfect example. They provide the same amount of light as the average light bulb but do so using just one quarter of the energy used by the ordinary light bulb and they last up to twelve times longer.
Well doesn’t that automatically mean then that using an energy efficient product results in energy conservation? Wrong. Think of it in terms of food. Eating a snack with lesser calories is good for watching your weight, but when consumed in terrific quantities then you find yourself right back at square one, having achieved nothing. Using energy efficient products in a wasteful manner means that at the end of the day, little or no energy conservation is taking place.
3. Organic food preserves the environment
Most of us believe that since organic foods are grown using natural, sustainable and regenerative farming processes, they are good for the soil, the planet and us. Well this is only true to the extent that the food has been produced locally. Most of the time the organic foods we find in the market have been transported from the farms where they were produced over great distances by trucks and planes.
Food miles, is a term coined to refer to the distance the food had to travel before reaching the store. The more the food miles, then the more the energy that was consumed and the pollution caused during transportation, both of which result in global warming. Go for locally produced organics.
4. Hybrid cars are more environmentally friendly than standard vehicles
Once again, this is wholly dependent on the circumstances. True, small hybrid vehicles go a long way in saving fuel costs and they do make a smaller carbon print than most standard vehicles. However, a large SUV hybrid car will be far worse than a small used car.
Consider also the amount of energy required to make one hybrid car. It is estimated that about 113million BTUs, equivalent to 1000 gallons of gasoline are used in the production of a new Toyota Prius. When it comes to choosing your vehicle thus, just evaluate your needs and choose the model of car that best suits them yet leaves the smallest carbon footprint possible. Better yet, opt to start using a bicycle.
5. Planting trees offsets global warming
We all know that trees reduce the air of pollutants, especially carbon dioxide, the most common green house effect gas. Planting more trees should then automatically lead to decreased global warming right? In a recent study conducted by scientists it was discovered that trees planted in the tropical belt along the equator benefit the environment, but those planted further off actually trap heat in their canopies, leading to raised temperatures. The most important thing is where you plant the trees!
Josh Wilkens is a member of Save Environment organization which conducts programs and seminars to make people aware about the environment conservation. Recently he conducted seminars for Creating custom reusable bags used for grocery shopping for women.
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