The Riot for Austerity project officially started on June 1. The goal that participants have set for themselves is to cut their emissions by 90% of what the average person in the US consumes - the approximate amount people in the rich world need to reduce by in order to avoid the worst effects of global warming.
I doubt I'll make the 90% goal but I think it's really useful to see where we are now in relation to the average family and track how small and large changes will impact it.
I'm a little behind as I haven't even figured out all my baselines yet but I'll try to compute them one at a time, starting today with gasoline.
The average American uses 500 gallons of gasoline per person per year. A 90 percent reduction would be only 50 gallons per person per year.
I've been keeping a record in a little notebook in my car for the last year and a half, to keep track of how much gasoline I buy/miles I drive. This was handy for figuring out our baseline. I figured out Paul's use by looking at some old repair bills. Many mechanics write the odometer readings on their invoice, so by tracking the changes by date, up to today, I was able to calculate how far he's driven in the last year. I used his educated guess about the mpgs (29).
Whenever we all go somewhere together, we use my car, a Subaru station wagon that gets 26 mpg. Paul uses his 89 Camry (which has over 200K miles on it and is pretty beat) only to drive to his massge therapy job and sometimes to do errands if I'm using the wagon.
The total gallons of gasoline we used in the cars last year was 584.83.
We used public transit only about once a month (usually to go to peace marches, or the Aquarium). I'm figuring a total of 200 Metro miles divided by 100 mpg (allotted by 90% folks) = 2 gallons.
We carpooled a lot in other people's cars, and I'm at a loss to figure out how to calculate that very acurately. So I'm going to guess at it this way:
We carpooled about 2x per month = 24 x per year
24 x average 30 miles each time = 720 miles
720 divided by 28 mpg (guessing) = 25.71 gallons o' gas
Now since there are usually 5 or more people travelling when we carpool maybe we should get a little break on the mpgs? But for now I'll just add it to the total.
584.83 + 2 + 25.71 = 612.54 divided by 3 people = 204.18 or 40.83% of the average. Not too bad, especially considering "Nobody walks in LA"
A note about public transit - LA transportation authorities in their infinite wisdom are raising the price of the day pass on the Metro from 3.00 to 5.00 in July! This means for me to travel with a couple of kids on a field trip will cost 15.00. I can drive to the Aquarium, emitting lots of CO2 and using fossil fuels as I sit in traffic on the 405 for significantly less money than that. This sucks.
Initial ideas for reducing gasoline use - ride bikes more (tune up the bikes, get a basket on my bike), even more carpooling, walk more (replace the folding cart that I used to use for carrying home groceries until it got stolen off my porch).
If you'd like to join the 90% project or just keep track of how others are doing it I recommend joining the Yahoo Group. It's full of wise and friendly people sharing their stories.