Cooler Smarter book provides practical steps for low carbon living

May 17th, 2012 by Island Press

(Please click on book cover to go to publisher's website)

While the routine decisions that shape our days—what to have for dinner, where to shop, how to get to work—may seem small, collectively they have a big effect on global warming. But which purchasing choices and changes in our lifestyles might make the biggest difference to the climate?

The new book, Cooler Smarter: Practical Steps for Low-Carbon Living, is based on a comprehensive two-year study by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

While other green guides suggest an array of tips, Cooler Smarter explains how to make the biggest impact and when not to sweat the small stuff.

The advice in Cooler Smarter can help you save money and live healthier. But its central purpose is to empower you, through low-carbon living, to confront one of society’s greatest threats.

A team of scientists from across the USA analyzed the climate impacts of hundreds of consumer decisions, from insulating your home to changing your diet.

From all that research comes a unique science-based consumer guide to reducing energy use and the carbon emissions that are contributing to climate change.

And the scientists turn many eco-myths on their head, like the importance of “food miles” or the superiority of all hybrid cars. They provide the science behind the right decisions that will save money and help save the planet at the same time.

“On average, the activities of each American add some 21 tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere each year,” says John Rogers, a co-author and senior energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists who contributed to Cooler Smarter.

“That’s more than you would cause by driving an average car all the way around the world at the equator. It’s also four times the annual global average of emissions per person. It’s hard evidence of the enormous impact we each have on the planet through the decisions we make each day.”

“Our research found a set of effective and practical steps all of us can take to cut our own global warming emissions by 20 percent or more,” said Brenda Ekwurzel, a climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists and co-author of the book.

“Most Americans underestimate by three times the amount they can save through the efficiency steps our scientists recommend,” she said.

“In a way, this book is like Consumer Reports meets Eat This, Not That, all backed by cutting-edge scientific and economic research. We want to give people a tool that can help them change the way they think about the impact their actions can make on their carbon footprint and on their pocketbook.”

Cooler Smarter is built upon two years of in-depth research on how the numbers stack up to figure out what are the most effective individual steps each person can take to lessen the most costly and devastating consequences of climate change.

The experts analyzed 500 different categories of U.S. consumer actions (everything from transportation and home heating and cooling to all the things we buy) to find the most effective things we can do to reduce our carbon emissions. And they were able to track the direct and indirect emissions resulting from the production and use of the goods and services U.S. consumers buy, making this the definitive guide to low-carbon living.

Cooler Smarter was authored by UCS experts and writers Seth Shulman, Jeff Deyette, Brenda Ekwurzel, David Friedman, Margaret Mellon, John Rogers and Suzanne Shaw.


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