The following is an excerpt from an article found on   (You can find the entire article here.)  Some of these may be controversial, but necessary to ponder.  Thoughts? What will you pledge? 

I pledge to begin taking as many of the following steps as I can to stave off the worst effects of global warming, and spread the word. In so doing I will cut fossil fuel use. I will do some or all of the following:

  1. Cut down on driving my vehicle, or carpool. I will walk or bike, and not buy a car if I do not have one (best of all). I will support and use mass transit. I may work closer to my home.
  2. Cut down on working just for money: I can thereby barter more, and cut down on commuting.
  3. Depave my driveway, or help others’ depave their driveways, or depave parking lots, and grow food in depaved land.
  4. Unplug or retire my television, and perhaps go off the electricity grid. I will reduce energy for heating, and share appliances such as my oven with neighbors, and not buy or use power tools or jet skis, etc.
  5. Publicly oppose new road construction and road widening in my community, to start undoing sprawl, prevent growth in traffic, and halt the spread of forest roads allowing clearcuts.
  6. Take vacations without jet air travel, and avoid career activity dependent on jet travel.
  7. Plant trees, collect rainwater, and avoid overusing municipal water as it is energy-consumptive (and thus may emit CO2, the main heat-trapping gas that fossil fuels release).
  8. Buy local products, buy as little plastic as possible, carry a travel mug. Minimize consumption. Support alternative plant materials to cut down on petrochemicals and trees for paper. Avoid eating animal products especially shipped-in beef.
  9. Not bring more children into the world, or limit my offspring to one, and possibly adopt. I recognize the threat of overpopulation.
  10. Inform my community and the greater national and global community on the need to take action such as the above for climate stability.”

We’re all aware that Washington failed to act on a climate and energy bill. I don’t want to spend time arguing about whether that’s a good thing or delving into the reasons why it happened (if you are interested, there’s a great piece from the New Yorker–it’s seriously long, but it’s very informative). I personally think the failure to act is disappointing, even though the watered-down version that ultimately survived the political process may have been more favors to oil companies than a boon for the environment; nevertheless, it’s time to move on.

So what now? What can we do? I assume you’re here in the first place because you care about how your use of energy affects the environment. The first step towards making changes is acknowledging the need for change. Once we do that, it’s time to make a commitment–let’s be honest, the changes that are really necessary are difficult and uncomfortable. This commitment can’t be ambiguous, like “I want to use less energy.” We need to detail our commitments. When two people get married, they often recite vows, which are promises to each other. We need to vow to the environment that we are going to use energy more responsibly. We need to vow to make these decisions every day. Until we make a commitment, we’re just foolin’ around.

My actions are very important. Your actions are very important. We, together, need to form a voice that carries beyond our homes and social circles and to the decision makers at KCP&L and BP and Ford. If Washington won’t listen, let’s send our message to those who will listen–the companies that want our money.

Speaking of KCP&L, this is one of my actions: I plan to contact KCP&L to see what it will take for them to offer a green energy purchasing option.  Over 600 utilities nationwide offer to their customers the option to pay a surcharge (ranging from .5 cents to 5 cents per kW/hr) to receive energy from a green source (wind, solar, etc.). KCP&L offers no such option. I’m convinced there are enough KC metro residents who would pay this surcharge, and if I have to rally those residents, I’m willing to do so.

What’s your action? We’re all in unique places, we have different schedules, and we have various resources and talents, but we can all advance a cause that certainly needs our attention. This isn’t just about riding your bike, or turning down your thermostat, or taking shorter showers. No, it’s about all of those things, plus anything else you can think of. It’s about living a lifestyle that decreases the burden on our environment. That may mean placing more burden on our shoulders, and it may mean placing more burden on our bank accounts, but we’re talking about our values. We’re talking about future generations. Are your values worth making a sacrifice? Are your children and grandchildren worth making a sacrifice?

If you’re looking for ways to act, try asking friends what they’re doing. Take an inventory of the ways you use energy, and brainstorm ideas on using less. Or you can sign up with Sierra Club to be a climate leader in your city. Be creative.

Let’s make a vow today. If in order for you to follow through on your vow, you need to tell somebody, so it’s not just in your head, then tell somebody. Or write it down. Make a poster for your yard. Put a note by your thermostat that says “don’t touch me, get a blanket.” There are hundreds of ways, but let’s get serious.  Know this: we will all make a decision today. Your decision is either action or inaction. Are you committed, or are you just foolin’ around?

Election season is heating up, yet my optimism has cooled to an all-time low. You may know the feeling. Regardless of where you fall, politically, you are probably disappointed. Politics is, to borrow an all-too-common phrase, “business as usual.” It doesn’t seem to matter which candidate wins in Missouri, or which candidate wins in Colorado, or which candidate wins in Delaware, because money is the ruling power. Public opinion says one thing, but D.C. does another, because it’s not the voice of Americans to which our Senators and Representatives are listening. No, they’re listening to the voice of Monsanto, the voice of the Koch brothers, and the voice of Valero.

When it comes to my role in this “democracy,” I’ve gone through various stages of anger, and one of those included thoughts of refusing to vote. I’ve calmed down (a little bit), and I do plan to vote in November, but I still doubt whether it will make a difference. I don’t think this is the final word, because we are a resilient country, but is there any hope for change?

I think there is, and this is why: we don’t have to wait on Washington.  Some action from our elected officials can certainly help the causes with which we are concerned, but we can also act. I can’t guarantee that Senator McCaskill is going to notice (I certainly can’t replace the $23k she’s received from Monsanto), but that doesn’t mean I’m going to give up. It’s easy to back down, because it’s easier to wait on Obama, but I’m tired of waiting. I know that my actions alone won’t do much, but our country is defined by the will of its people–all of it’s people. Think about our actions this way: when we make compromises to our values, we walk in step with the elected officials we criticize. We can’t scoff at the way Roy Blunt’s campaign is funded by corporations when we shirk our own values for convenience.

In the coming weeks, I’d like to share my thoughts on how our actions and personal responsibility can force changes in Washington. We control how we use energy, how we view food, and how we spend money, and we can act regardless of whether Washington acts. We’ve heard that each dollar makes a difference, and each action makes a difference. But it’s easy to doubt these statements, and it’s easy to allow that doubt to lull us into complacency. Let’s take our values, stitch them to our sleeves, and create lasting change. Our government is supposed to represent the people of America, so let’s make sure D.C. knows where our values lie. We can’t afford to wait on them.

Tune in next week for part I of the series: Energy.