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Author urges "low-carbon diet"

SHELBURNE The title of the lecture catches your attention: The Low Carbon Diet: A 30 Day Program to Lose 5,000 Pounds. The message of Wes Sanders lecture is even more attention-grabbing: people working in small groups in their own neighborhoods or churches can have an impact on global warming. At the fourth in a series of lectures entitled Voices for the Environment sponsored this spring by All Souls Interfaith Gathering in Shelburne, Sanders began with the big picture renowned scientists speaking out about the threat of global change brought about by a lifestyle that relies on heavy consumption of cheap energy, the spectre of droughts, floods, insect borne diseases, arable land turning to desert, social unrest arising from famine. He quoted the work of Lester Brown, founder of World Watch Institute who studies the climate situation and who has said the world needs to cut greenhouse gases to drastically to move from the current 384 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to the historical level of 350 parts per million. Sanders admitted that the usual response to such daunting numbers is to go into denialthats too big a problem for us, or our church, or our race to have any effect. His reaction to the daunting numbers is to encourage a grass-roots action, both on the personal level, reducing the carbon footprint of individual homes and churches, while also speaking out demanding action that will affect the large scale producers of carbon dioxide. People in high places are taking notice, but we people in our communities will have to make a lot of noise, he said. Actually, when it comes to who is responsible for global warming, it turns out that we as consumers are responsible for 40 percent, he said. Its what we buy, the cars we drive, how we heat our houses. Put it all together and we in the United States, 4 or 5 percent of the worlds population, generate 25 percent of the greenhouse gases. The Low Carbon Diet is a book by David Gershorn, and it is the user-friendly textbook used by small community or church-based groups organized by Sanders to fight global warming on a very local and personal level. The book describes household and community actions that add up to a significant impact on CO2 emissions from changing lightbulbs to compact fluorescents to installing an on-demand water heater. We encourage people to work on lifestyle changes, systems in your house, and then involving the community, your school, your business, in making changes, Sanders said. He desribed the EcoTeam strategy in which small groups of about eight people, preferably neighbors or co-workers (to reduce the amount of driving to go to meetings) who agree to get together on a regular schedule to follow the prescribed steps in the book beginning with calculating their own household carbon footprint and then sharing ways of reducing it. The reason this works is that its social, Sanders said. Theres fun involved but theres also the shared expertise and wisdom of the group. Fourteen heads are better than one. There is also the satisfaction of seeing the multiplier effect of everyone taking action, he said. If you calculate that replacing one incandescent bulb saves 100 pounds of carbon dioxide, then replacing 25 bulbs saves 2,500 pounds and thats quite a lot. He also pointed out that peer pressure helps everyone succeed. Its peer accountability, he said. Vermont Interfaith Power and Light which Sanders represents was founded as a non-profit under the sponsorship of Vermont Ecumenical Council several years ago when they passed a resolution to care for Creation. All Souls Interfaith Gathering in Shelburne has included environmental stewardship in its mission statement and sponsored the Voices for the Environment Series as a way of raising the awareness of the community and its members.

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