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Global Warming- What's a person to do?

Original post made by Elizabeth Lasensky, Menlo Park: Downtown, on Jan 25, 2007

While our leaders are deciding what government can do to stem global warming, there are things we, the people, can do. The big question is, what are we willing to sacrifice so that our country and planet are viable for our children?

So here is a starter list, maybe others can add to it.

* install solar panels
* rediscover the clothes line
* walk and bike, take public transit, carpool
* install programmable thermostats
* use flourescent light bulbs
* shop locally
* plant more trees and native plants
* shop strategically, support eco-friendly businesses and products
* encourage transit, bike and pedestrian oriented housing and other developments

Other ideas?

Comments (33)

Posted by Anna
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Jan 25, 2007 at 2:33 pm

Good list. My Number One suggestion:

Get out of your SUVs. Now. There are alternatives that are as safe, if not safer, and FAR more responsible.

Also, I agree with the "shop locally" and "shop strategically..." points, but would add: Don't shop at all unless you actually NEED what you would be purchasing.

Posted by MPworkingMom
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 25, 2007 at 4:45 pm

Curbside recycling -- it's so easy, and yet so many of my neighbors don't use it.

Don't throw batteries in the trash -- the Menlo Park library and Walgreens photo dept. will take your old batteries.

Use non-toxic or less-toxic cleaning products, such as vinegar-based window cleaner instead of ammonia-based.

Be smart about pest control. Regular spraying is terrible for the environment and for your family's health. Good suggestions can be found on this web site: Web Link

Posted by Kathy
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Jan 25, 2007 at 5:03 pm

Great list, Elizabeth. I just rediscovered my clothesline!

Along the lines of your suggestion to get programmable thermostats, I would add "turn down the heat" (or, in the summer, avoid using the AC when you can). More efficient use of energy helps reduce emissions, and it's easy to do.

Buying from the Farmers' Market helps reduce the impact of our food choices by reducing the amount of fossil fuel (= emissions) required to transport it. (For more info on food miles, check out this interesting study by the Worldwatch Institute: Web Link Choosing organic food reduces the use of petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides.

We're lucky to have some good local markets in MP and Palo Alto. It's a great social scene, and the best way to get fresh, excellent produce.

Posted by Lisa
a resident of Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Jan 25, 2007 at 10:15 pm

And ...

Tell your politicians to Get Rid of those gas guzzling, air polluting Trucks!! The ones used for cargo. Or at least enact more stringent efficiency laws against them!

Require that all public transportation be energy efficient.

Allow residents to participate in renewable energy programs.

Ask your local television stations to show more news on environmental change and news on how to increase use of renewable energy.

Start a company to create more renewable energy.

Protest in the streets.

Put up Billboard ads on Freeways asking people to become more energy efficient.

Make Television & Radio Ads in favor of environmental conservation.

Ask your local businesses to participate in renewable energy programs.

Wear organic clothing.

Turn off your porch lights at night.

Ask the shopping malls to use less energy - or go renewable.

Refrain from burning wood in your fireplace.

Don't drink bottled water - those plastic bottles - the dozens that we find washed up on beaches. Use a washable water bottle.

Don't buy exotic woods for your floors, furniture, kitchen cabinets - the Brazilian cherry wood kind that comes from Brazil (i.e. the Amazon). Use bamboo or locally grown wood.

Ask your legistlators to require that businesses become more energy efficient. And make sure they enforce it!

Ask your gardeners to use rakes instead of gas fueled leaf blowers.

Posted by Menlo Park resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 26, 2007 at 9:30 am

Right on, right on, Lisa of Portola Valley.

Posted by Steve Schmidt
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 26, 2007 at 9:55 am

There is a suggestion conspicuously missing from these good lists: A highly personal matter, powerful in its long term impacts and related to the effectiveness of nearly everything previously mentioned. The big pink elephant in the middle of the room is...overpopulation!

For those of you of reproductive age who want children, consider adoption. If you must do one of your own, do just one. Absolutely positively stop at two. It is your reponsibility to the future.

Posted by Anit-Steve Schmidt
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
on Jan 26, 2007 at 10:23 am

Malthus was wrong. Move to China. Stop trying to impose your misguided world view on family freindly Menlo Park.

Posted by Diana
a resident of another community
on Jan 26, 2007 at 11:03 am

Anit- (Anti-?)Steve Schmidt,

Time to stop tossing out these smug and simplistic buzz phrases like "family friendly" in such a meaningless way. Instead, let's look at what such concepts mean. To me a "family friendly" person would be seriously concerned about what kind of world we're leaving to the youngest members of our family. Being "family hostile" is being unwilling to consider all good-faith, effective means of stopping the destruction of the planet all families call "home."

Posted by Steve Schmidt
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 26, 2007 at 12:48 pm

"Anti" will appreciate an article in today's SF Chronicle, page A8, titled "Gore's 'truth' given cold reception in Seattle". Religion as science, anyone?

Posted by Elizabeth Lasensky
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 26, 2007 at 3:20 pm

Lots of excellent additions to the starter list.

MPWorkingMom has an good comment up top - don't purchase something unless you absolutely need somthing. How else can we stop rampant consumerism and our "disposable" culture and cut down on credit card debt at the same time.

Posted by Diana
a resident of another community
on Jan 26, 2007 at 6:41 pm

The Earth may be warming, but the Chronicle article cited by Steve Schmidt chilled me to the bone. I found it interesting that the religious fanatic who is at the center of this theater-of-the-absurd has seven kids. Of course, he's not worried about what kind of world we're leaving for future generations -- the Second Coming is right around the corner, so why worry? What a cretin.

Posted by Anti-Steve Schmidt
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
on Jan 26, 2007 at 8:35 pm

Cretins (stunted physical and mental growth) don't understand that overpopulation is a myth. Malthus' predictions have proven to be wrong as will Al Gore's posturing.

Never underestimate technology, creativity and science. If either of the above were correct we wouldn't be here to write these pithy messages.

The left wing, environmentalist, socialist lobby really wants to control how we all live.

Steve doesn't understand the failure and pitfalls of his socialist agenda. He thinks we all want to live in his vision of a wonderful world.

It's not working for Cuba and we don't need our own llittle Castro leading policy in Menlo Park.

Posted by Amazed
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Jan 26, 2007 at 10:43 pm

Wow, from population growth to Castro in just 5 disjointed paragraphs!

How about trying 6 degrees of separation between Steve and the Devil himself next time?

Posted by Anti-Steve Schmidt
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
on Jan 26, 2007 at 11:42 pm

Population control is evil.

Posted by Diana
a resident of another community
on Jan 27, 2007 at 12:26 pm

And ignorance is dangerous.

Posted by Anna
a resident of another community
on Jan 27, 2007 at 1:22 pm

Variations on two previous ideas:

** Lobby the decision-makers in your workplace to avoid extremes in temperature control -- frigid air conditioning in summer and excessive heat in winter.

** Get rid of your lawn. Landscaping with shrubs and other plants eliminates the need for a lawnmower, and will usually require less water.

Posted by Convenient Truth
a resident of Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Jan 27, 2007 at 10:19 pm

People seriously interested in global warming and what we can do about it might consider a five-week discussion class being sponsored by Acterra on Tuesday nights from Feb. 6 to March 11, from 7:30 to 9 p.m., at Palo Alto High School, 25 Embarcadero Road.
Participants in “Global Warming: Issues and Answers” will learn the scientific evidence for climate change, how it will affect future generations as well as those living around the current shores of San Francisco Bay, and what can be done. Participants will consider policies at different levels of government; they will also calculate their personal “carbon footprint” and learn practical steps to reduce their own emissions of greenhouse gases.
Instructor David Coale is a board member of the environmental group, Acterra, and serves on Palo Alto’s Green Ribbon Task Force on Climate Protection. In real life, he rides a bicycle and drives an electric car powered by his home electric solar system.
Registration is $45 for the class, which is being presented through the Palo Alto Adult School. People can register online at Web Link
For more information, contact David Coale at Acterra, 962-9876, ext. 309; or

Posted by Thankful
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 28, 2007 at 11:30 pm

Coulda been worse, folks. SS could have run for council again. Imagine another four years of this misguided zealot trying to implement family planning policies in Menlo Park instead of dealing with the real issues that confront us.

Posted by Smellin' the odor of mendacity
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Jan 29, 2007 at 7:35 am


Steve Schmidt wants to "implement family planning policies in Menlo Park" because he suggests that people limit the number of kids they have as a way to stem damage to the planet? Big difference between suggesting a voluntary measure and advocating for a government policy -- as if you didn't know that. How about keeping the discussion honest?

Posted by Elizabeth Lasensky
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 29, 2007 at 12:22 pm

History sides with Steve Schmidt. Jarod Diamond, in his best selling book "Collapse", examines both ancient and modern examples where overpopulation combined with environmental degradation, deforestation, and internal power struggles contributed to the collapse of such diverse civiliazations as Easter Island, the Mayans, Chaco Canyon, Greenland and Rwanda. We are headed there and there is no space ship that is going to rescue us.

We can choose to follow that path to self-destruction or we can change our course and head for a more sustainable future. The choice is ours.

So, given that choice, what are you going to change to help?

Posted by Anti-Steve Schmidt
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
on Jan 29, 2007 at 3:00 pm

Jared Diamond is a zealot like Elizabeth and Steve. Zealotry in any from should be avoided at all cost. I am sure glad that we have neither of them leading our city council at present. I am also glad that hey are revealing themselves fully for who they are and whta they represent.

From an Amaozon review of the referenced author.

In his magnum opus, 1984, George Orwell famously wrote, "Who controls the past, controls the future and who controls the present controls the past". This is a lesson that Jared Diamond has obviously learned well.

In his latest book "Collapse" Jared Diamond" continues to push the Europhobic liberal agenda. Hiding behind the facade of environmentalism Diamond crafts a sub-text that calls for Europeans to embrace the values of failed third-world cultures and abandon the pursuit of technological advancement that has created global European cultural hegemony. Unfortunately for Diamond, genuine scientific research is revealing much of his work to be based on nothing more than wishful thinking and an overactive imagination.

Diamond makes the assertion that Easter Island experienced a cultural collapse due to depletion of natural resources and overpopulation. This may conflate well with the tenets of liberalism but unfortunately for Mr Diamond, it does not conflate well with the factual findings of the latest archaeological investigations. Radiocarbon dating of soil samples, by Carl Lipo and Terry Hunt, indicate that Easter Island was not inhabited until two to eight hundred years after the occupation time that Diamond's theory would require. Quite simply, the new evidence uncovered by Lipo and Hunt indicates that the period of human habitation of Easter Island was far too short for Diamond's putative collapse to have been the result of overpopulation. To quote Carl Lipo,

"It fits our 21st century view of us as ecological monsters. There's no doubt that we do terrible things ecologically, but we're passing that on to the past, which may not have been actually the case, to stick our plight on to them is unfair"

It is difficult to over-emphasise just how badly compromised Diamond is by this evidence. The Easter Island chapter is a major plank in his argument, the fact that Diamond is rank ignorant of the latest archeological research reveals him to be an amateur polemicist rather than a scientific authority figure.

Those who may think that Diamond's Easter Island fantasy is simply an abberation might want to introduce some hard science into their analysis of Diamond's version of the history of Greenland. The extinction of Greenland's Viking colony is used by Diamond to enforce the ideology of modern liberalism. Diamond claims that the Vikings perished because a racist contempt for the Inuit prevented them from assimilating ideas that would have prevented their slow starvation. A cultural superiority complex caused the Viking colonists to cling to an unviable agricultural lifestyle and, in Diamonds words, "The Greenland colonists starved to death surrounded by oceans teeming with fish". This is an analysis that neatly dovetails with modern pro-immigrant, liberal cultural relativism and the dogma of multiculturalism. The major flaw in Diamond's argument is that the latest historical research shows that by the time of the colony's extinction the Greenland Vikings had, in point of fact, switched from a diet that was 80% farm food to a diet that was 80% marine food. In otherwords, the Viking colonists proved to be perfectly capable of adapting to environmental change without having to learn lessons from stone age primitives. To present the Vikings as beloning to a soley agrarian culture in the first place would be the cause for much derisive laughter among genuine historians. The Vikings are well known (unless you are Diamond) to have exploited a rich variety of marine life as a food resource.

The alternative explanation for the Vikings demise is that the mini-ice age that caused the Vikings to switch diets also witnessed a mass immigration of Alaskan Inuit who competed with the Vikings for food and finally massacred them in an unrecorded genocide. We know about the mini ice-age from the evidence of core samples and tree rings. We know about the Innuit peregrinations through archeology and folk record. In the face of genuine science and history I'm afraid Mr Diamond is left up a certain creek without means of conveyance. Historians tend not to write about evolutionary biology, perhaps evolutionary biologists might in future restrain their urge to embarrass themselves by writing about history?

Posted by Anti-Imbecility
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Jan 29, 2007 at 3:44 pm

Anti-Steve Schmidt, you are certainly free to doubt global warming --just be thankful you live on higher ground in the Stanford Hills.

I think you shot yourself in the foot on claiming the moral high ground against zealotry, however.

Posted by Diana
a resident of another community
on Jan 29, 2007 at 4:32 pm

Anti-Steve Schmidt/population control/Jarod Diamond/zealotry/evil:

Two questions:

1. How do you define "zealot"?

2. What makes the three people you named as "zealots" zealots? Because they disagree with you?

Posted by Pat
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 29, 2007 at 5:25 pm

We live in a world of finite resources and shouldn't pretend otherwise. I am hopeful that many voluntary actions can help create a sustainable future for all of us and that it won't be necessary to resort to any sort of draconian measures suggested in some previous notes.

I ask that we all be more respectful of nature - and of each other. Personal attacks are not helpful.

Posted by Back on Track
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 29, 2007 at 9:19 pm

The point is that our city officials--elected and paid--should be focusing their efforts where they can achieve some benefit. It's realistic to discuss, say, reducing our civic dependence on oil and other non-renewable sources of energy. But the only reason to bring up the topic of eliminating reproduction among residents of Menlo Park is to create divisiveness and controversy.

It's unfortunate that some people seek elected office because they like to stir up emotions and polarize residents. And perhaps, you could argue, this sort of amusement is harmless. But while these elected officials are thusly amusing themselves, who's minding the store? I for one am glad that our current council members do not seem to be the type that want to engage in ideological nitpickery just because they need some excitement in their otherwise dreary lives.

Posted by Bob
a resident of another community
on Jan 31, 2007 at 11:39 am

A few more "little" things that could add up:
* Don't idle your engine needlessly to "warm up" your car, or while parking longer than a minute or so.
* Avoid drive-thru restaurants. Park and walk inside.
* Turn off all lights, TVs, radios, etc., when you leave a room (Plus, leave those outdoor "insecurity" lights off. You might even rediscover the Milky Way above.
* Turn off your computer when it is not actively being used.
* Politely encourage local businesses to turn off a few lights too.
* Unless you live in the woods, sell your SUV and buy a smaller car.

Posted by Bob
a resident of another community
on Jan 31, 2007 at 11:51 am

One more simple tip: Take shorter showers.

Posted by Menlo Park resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 1, 2007 at 9:52 am

There are many useful ways to conserve energy listed here, but it's important not to lose sight of the need to write to government representatives at all levels and urge them to enact legislation that will take on global warming in a substantial way.

Small individual actions will not save this planet as its current species have come to know it.

Posted by Unclear on the concept
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 1, 2007 at 12:23 pm

I know this is a petty irritation, but could I propose a ban on "Keep Tahoe Blue" stickers from being placed on SUVs?

If you are driving a Tahoe or an Explorer or a Navigator, or any other SUV, you aren't helping keep Tahoe blue, or the air clean, or the environment healthy. You and your sticker are part of the problem.

Posted by Elizabeth Lasensky
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 1, 2007 at 1:00 pm

What about banning

gas-powered leaf blowers

hardwood floors and other wood objects from tropical rainforests, etc.

watering lawns - don't water on rainy days or water only twice a week


use rakes, etc.

purchase sustainable hardwood alternatives, like cork or bamboo

plant drought tolerant native plants

Posted by SUV Hater
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Feb 1, 2007 at 2:12 pm

"You and your sticker are part of the problem."

It's not the sticker's fault!

I know our federal govt isn't going to do a thing to stop the production/sale of these vehicles, but can't Menlo Park institute a special tax to help compensate for the wear and tear on our local environment (and the dangers SUVs create by dint of their mass, not to mention that fact that many SUV drivers think they own the road and are invincible and drive accordingly)?

Posted by Old Mom
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on May 14, 2007 at 11:33 am

Anyone taking the time to respond to Anti-SS is wasting their typing.

He/she is not interested in any type of conservation. He/she is part of the 28%, those who will disagree with TRUTH even if it is served up on a platter to him/her.

Great ideas have been posted here on how to help-please just ignore the naysayer.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle

on Jun 3, 2017 at 11:43 am

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