What Global Warming Means for Minnesota
From Hurricane Sandy to devastating droughts, to the massive flooding in Duluth last year, many Minnesotans have noticed that we’ve seen more than our share of unusual weather lately. Unfortunately, scientists in Minnesota and across the U.S. warn that if we keep polluting the way we are now, global warming will bring even more extreme and dangerous weather, along with more smog pollution and even the extinction of some plants and animals. The good news is that we know how to make big cuts in the carbon pollution fueling the problem—and Minnesota is already headed in the right direction in some areas. Below is a rundown of the problem, why it matters for Minnesota, and what you can do to help.
Global Warming Solutions
What You Can Do
- There are many things Minnesotans can do in our everyday lives to help reduce our carbon footprint:
- A home energy audit is a great place to start, as the auditor will walk through your home with you and point out the ways in which you can cut energy waste.
- Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact florescent light bulbs (CFLs), which not only use less energy but can also reduce your lighting costs by up to 75 percent. When shopping for larger appliances and electronics, look for the EnergyStar label to help you choose the most efficient models.
- Simple maintenance: Keep radiators and refrigerator coils clean and free of dust, keep the lint trap clean in your dryer, and clean or replace the filters in your furnace, water heather, and/or air conditioner to help all of these products use less energy.
- Go solar: Many Minnesota homeowners are discovering the benefits of installing solar panels on their roofs. Get in touch with a local solar energy installer to find out if solar could work for you.
- Support wind power: Some utilities offer customers the opportunity to pay a bit more for wind power on their monthly bill, which helps to support the development of wind power for all of us.
- Drive less or carpool: Explore the public transportation options available near you, or consider carpooling with a coworker or friends. Even if you use these options only once or twice a week, every avoided car trip means less carbon pollution.
- Eat local, and eat less meat: Producing a pound of meat creates far more carbon pollution than producing a pound of vegetables, and the transport of food creates carbon pollution as well. So consider ditching the burger at McDonald’s for a hearty salad from the farmer’s market.
- Speak up: Letting your friends and family—and your elected officials—know that you care about this issue and are working to do your part to solve it will help convince more people to get involved and achieve even bigger cuts in pollution.
What Minnesota leaders can do
- State leaders can help make Minnesota a leader in tackling global warming by building on several success stories we already have in place:
- Renewable energy: Minnesota is off to a great start in generating more of our electricity with clean, renewable energy like wind and solar power. Now our state leaders should build upon this progress by defending and expanding the state’s renewable energy goals, so that we’re meeting 40% of our electricity needs with renewable energy by 2030.
- Solar energy: Even with our northern climate, Minnesota has amazing potential to get much more of our energy from the sun. State leaders should expand access to solar energy for our homes and businesses and make it easier for communities to produce clean local power, by committing to put solar on 250,000 roofs within a decade and get at least 10% of our electricity from the sun by 2030,.
- Cleaner cars: Environment Minnesota helped convince the Obama administration to pass the first increase in fuel efficiency standards in the last 40 years. We should build on that success by adopting policies that provide Minnesota drivers with more choices for cleaner cars, like plug-in electric cars and hybrids, to reduce pollution and cut what we pay at the pump.
What Washington Can Do
- Local and state actions are critical to achieving big cuts in carbon pollution, but we also need action from Congress and the White House as well. Thankfully, several historic initiatives are under way:
- Clean car standards: Last summer the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation finalized new fuel efficiency and carbon pollution standards for new cars and light trucks sold in model years 2017-2025. These standards are expected to cut annual carbon emissions by 270 million metric tons in 2030, which is equivalent to the pollution created by 65 coal-fired power plants in a year.
- Carbon pollution standards for power plants: EPA is also developing the first-ever carbon pollution standards for new power plants, and may soon begin developing standards for existing power plants. Given that power plants are the largest single source of carbon pollution, these historic standards will be critical to helping the U.S. tackle global warming.
- Repowering America: Tapping into our vast clean energy resources—including the power of the wind, the heat of the sun and the energy leaking from drafty windows in our homes and businesses—will decrease our dependence on polluting fossil fuels. We’re making progress: President Obama recently set goals to double renewable energy by 2020 and cut energy waste in half in two decades, and renewable energy made up nearly half of all new power added to the grid in the U.S. in 2012. But now federal clean energy tax incentives and other key programs that have made this progress possible are under attack in Congress. Our leaders should renew and extend clean energy incentives to keep moving us away from fossil fuels and cut carbon pollution.
- Lead by example: The Obama administration has challenged all federal agencies to develop plans to reduce their emissions. With agencies like the Department of Defense leading the way, all agencies are now actively implementing their plans by adopting measures; such as improving energy efficiency of buildings, installing renewable energy and improving the efficiency of their transportation fleets and the fuels that they use.