Go Green, Save Money and Save the Earth: Summer heats up climate change

Kim Hornung-Marcy

August 01, 2023

How are you doing? Summer has accelerated many negative aspects of climate change. Although New England has mainly escaped the extreme heat in the South and West, we have seen record smoke due to the Canadian wildfires and record rain, causing flooding and major challenges for anyone trying to grow crops. The efforts we make to reduce energy use and transition to green energy (not burning anything) are even more important. 
So let’s start with some good news: Together we are stronger and more churches and individuals are taking steps to fight climate change. Be part of the solution.
Electric vehicle update
In parts of California, where there are the largest numbers of electric vehicles (EVs), there is a measurable decrease in air pollution; 42% of the EVs sold in the USA, are sold in California and they make up 17.7% of new car purchases there. New England is also an early adopter area. But surprising stats show that year over year increases in sales of EVs are no longer just on the coasts: Tucson, AZ. (82%), Orlando, FL. (77%) and Oklahoma City, OK. (75%) . Rebates are up and prices are down making Electric Vehicles even more popular. Read more in this article from Hertz car rentals. 
Wildfire smoke update
If you are dealing with poor air quality due to wildfire smoke, watch the level of fine particulate matter and lower your time outdoors. If you go outdoors, decrease the duration and/or intensity level of your activities. To know what your air quality rating is: Download the free app by the EPA: Air Now. 
Wood smoke is very similar to cigarette smoke, it is bad for the climate and bad for health. Whether it is coming from a wildfire, or a wood burning stove, or furnace — wood produces the most fine particulate matter of any fuel we burn. Fine particulate matter is only slightly larger than the Covid virus so that means wearing a K95 mask will prevent it from reaching your lungs. Purchasing a room air purifier is also a good idea if numbers indicate poor air quality for long periods or you live with someone with lung or heart issues.
Medical science does not consider any amount of fine particulate matter to be healthy. It is especially bad for those under 20 years of age, pregnant, over 65 years of age, or people with heart/lung issues. Smoke contains five of the six “critical air pollutants” tracked by the EPA and gives off more of them than any other fuel we burn. Burning wood is the same or worse than coal on many measures. When wood is burned for heat, it is the least efficient of any burned fuel. Plus living trees sequester carbon and help us fight climate change. Can you plant a tree this summer?
Heat and mental health
On July 31, 2023, NPR aired a report titled How Extreme Heat Affects Our Mental Health that included the following quotes from the experts interviewed: “High heat effects everyone negatively. In addition, to impacting our moods and how we feel, people don’t get outside, and don’t exercise.”
Be aware: “One in five Americans are on a prescription drug to manage a mental health condition. These medicines are very effective and need to be taken regularly, however these medicines may increase a person’s vulnerability to heat. Check with your doctor if you have concerns.”
Food and plastic are a bad combination: We have known for some time that plastic bottles and nipples leak micro plastics and are not good for babies. But now there is research confirming that packaging baby food in plastic jars allows the plastic to leach out into the food. It leaches at room temperature, and even in a refrigerator, but it really breaks down if you microwave food in plastic containers. Plastic is a fossil fuel product, eating it has negative health consequences. Use glass or stainless steel containers for food. To learn more, read the Wired article, For the Love of God, Stop Microwaving Plastic