October 15 is Blog Action Day – an annual event where a bunch of activists are trying to focus the attention of the entire world on one topic.
Their method: Get as many bloggers as possible to write about this topic. No matter what the normal topic of the blog is, no matter whether it is a long or a very short post. Basically they are trying to flood the web with their chosen issue for a day, which would then also attract interest from traditional media.
From a social media strategy point of view I find that very interesting and I think it might be worth for big organizations that have a lot of supporters to think about how they can steal that idea.
The topic of this year’s Blog Action Day is “Climate Change”. And yes, I really did sell my car, though it was more a coincidence that it happened today. However, the process of selling it made me think about two things:
Did I decrease humanities carbon footprint?
The car I sold was a nine year old Peugot 206 that I was driving about once a month. So I’d say my personal carbon footprint is not going to change much because I sold it.
What about the person buying it? It’s fair to assume that he would have bought another car if I hadn’t sold him mine and considering his budget, it is unlikely that he would have bought a newer, more energy efficient car. In all likelihood he would have bought a different car similar to mine, which means that me selling my car to him didn’t make a difference to his carbon footprint either. Too bad.
Significantly reducing the world’s carbon footprint is easy
However, this whole thing made me think about energy efficiency in general. It amazes me that we seem to focus so much time and resources on trying to develop new technologies when there is still so much room to optimize the ones we have at the moment. And it would be faster and cheaper, too.
The International Energy Agency estimates that “Energy-efficient buildings, industrial processes and transportation could reduce the world’s projected energy needs in 2050 by one third”. One third! In comparison, the fossil fuels used worldwide for transportation contribute to only 13 per cent of greenhouse gases. But what do we focus on? The more difficult and smaller issue, i.e. transportation.
Obviously increases in energy efficiency would also include transportation so it’s not quite fair to compare these numbers. But I find it bizarre that most of the public debate seems to focus on trying to find fuel alternatives when we could do so much more with existing technologies.
We need new laws
I for example live in Geneva, Switzerland, in a building with single-pane windows and old wooden frames. The insulation is so bad that I can feel the air coming through. I don’t even want to know how much energy I’m wasting every winter because of this, but it must be a lot. And this is not just my building – it’s most buildings in my street and many buildings in the city. Fixing it would be easy – just get new windows! No new technology needed. But there is no law that would require the owners to do that (I made inquiries) and as a result it’s not being done.
My wish for Blog Action Day
I could have a wish for Blog Action Day then it would be this: Let’s all try to get national laws passed that make increases in energy efficiency a requirement for all industries and sectors of life. This would be the fastest and cheapest way to quickly reduce how much energy we spent and significantly reduce greenhouse gases.
Update: During Blog Action Day more than 31,000 trackable blog posts have been written about climate change. Bloggers in 155 countries participated. These included the blogs of the UK’s Prime Minister and the White House blog. CNN also reported on the event. Not bad, I’d say. A full summary of Blog Action Day 2009 can be found here …