Clasp hands for climate change action

The outdoor temperature is hovering about the zero-degree mark. This is a reminder for vehicle owners to gear up for winter. Winter tires should be put on vehicles, antifreeze levels checked and oil changes performed.

The outdoor temperature is hovering about the zero-degree mark.

This is a reminder for vehicle owners to gear up for winter.

Winter tires should be put on vehicles, antifreeze levels checked and oil changes performed.

Not only are physical adjustments being done but mental attitudes are also kicking in.

This is apparent by the number of vehicles being left idling on Main Street and at the big box stores.

While the owners run inside to do quick errands their vehicles are left running.

This is incredibly wasteful not to mention unnecessary.

Ten seconds of idling can use more gasoline than turning the engine off and then on again.

This idling means the internal combustion engine consumes fossil fuels.

There is an unfortunate side effect.

When fossil fuels are combusted, one of the byproducts is carbon dioxide.

Carbon dioxide is what is known as a greenhouse gas.

This contributes towards climate change.

Unless greenhouse gas emissions are greatly reduced planetary climate conditions will become bleak.

The impacts on existing ecological systems could be very negative indeed.

The very least vehicle owners can do is to not idle their cars.

In addition, ensure they are appropriately tuned and serviced so they run efficiently.

This will reduce the amount of fossil fuels required to keep them moving.

There are alternatives to fossil-fuel vehicles.

Those who have the fiscal means might consider purchasing a hybrid car.

These run partly on electric batteries and partly on regular fuel.

This reduces the amount of greenhouse gas emissions being released when compared with the usage of the old-style vehicles.

Of course, there are alternatives to owning a personal vehicle.

Bicycling, even in winter, can be done.

For those in Whitehorse there is a transit system.

Car-pooling among neighbours and co-workers is another way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions per vehicle trip.

Reducing idling in and of itself is not going to limit climate change.

But every little action is important in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

It does make one wonder why there is not an anti-idling bylaw within the city of Whitehorse.

A recent bylaw that was passed concentrated on the height of grass and whether freezers could be visible from the street.

This is an example of a bylaw that governs the visual look of the town .

Surely there should be bylaws that govern the release of greenhouse gases?

Another action individuals might wish to do is to give the Yukon Legislature a hug.

Tomorrow, Saturday, October 24th, at least 350 people are gathering at noon to form a standing circle, hand-in-hand, around the Yukon Legislative Building.

This is part of a global campaign to encourage national governments take decisive action on Climate Change at the upcoming UN Conference in Copenhagen.

Three hundred and fifty is the number that climate scientists say is the acceptable upper limit for carbon dioxide – measured in “parts per million”- in the Earth’s atmosphere.

There is presently about 390 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Three hundred and fifty is the number the planet needs to get back to as soon as possible to create a safe climatic future for all living things.

The organizers over at BYTE have asked individuals to sign up before the event and receive a designated number.

This can be done by dropping by the BYTE office at #2-407 Ogilvie Street, by phoning 667-7975 or by e-mailing events@yukonyouth.com.

Otherwise, feel free to show up at the event at the legislature at noon on Saturday.

Climate change is a global issue but every action that Yukoners can do, such as not idling vehicles, can help limit its impacts.

Another action is to be involved in the BYTE activity at the legislature.

For this particular event, it is think global but hug local.

Lewis Rifkind is a Whitehorse based part-time environmentalist.

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