Aug. 22, 2012

Many Shades of Green

by Annette Heist

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This week we'll talk with Peter Byck, producer and director of the documentary Carbon Nation. The movie bills itself as a "climate change solutions movie that doesn't even care if you believe in climate change." 
Although I'd quibble with the phrasing ("believe" is a word I'd save for chats about magic, or religion) I get what Byck is trying to do: Convince people to change their energy-use practices for less abstract reasons than lowering atmospheric CO2 -- reasons such as creating jobs, or reducing our dependence on foreign oil. But for me, one of the most compelling reasons Byck gives for saving energy -- you save money. 
In the film, Byck interviews Michael Dunham, aka "The Fridge Guy." Dunham is the head of JACO Environmental, a company that recycles old refrigerators*.  As I wrote a couple years back, upgrading your current refrigerator to a more energy-efficient model, or unplugging that avocado-colored behemoth in your basement, can save you hundreds of dollars a year. You can calculate just how much here: Refrigerator Retirement Savings Calculator.
I figure I saved about $140 a year by upgrading my 80s Kenmore to an Energy Star-rated model. I also lowered my energy use. Is my tiny decrease in CO2 emissions a solution to climate change? No. But maybe if we all did it...
Either way, climate change believer or not, it's hard to argue with just plain saving money. And that's one of the things Byck is counting on. You can watch a trailer for his film below.
*Lots of utility companies are offering extra cash incentives to get people to dump their old refrigerators. Go to the JACO site and enter your zip code to see if you qualify for a rebate.




About Annette Heist

Annette Heist is a former senior producer for Science Friday.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.

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