Stop being energy
'airheads'

Web site to Americans: - http://www.airhead.org
Tuesday, July 31, 2001 By Margot Higgins

Each mile that a person travels in an airplane accounts for 1.08 pounds of greenhouse gases. Did you know that running a large refrigerator and freezer for one year can produce as much pollution as driving a car from Chicago to Las Vegas? Or that each mile a person travels in an airplane accounts for 1.08 pounds of greenhouse gases? The average American contributes 1,859 pounds of air pollution to the atmosphere each year.

The Center for Neighborhood Technology is offering average and extravagant Americans a gentle reality check through a free Internet service called AirHead.org, which allows people to calculate their energy consumption and contribution to pollution.

"Individually, our air pollution impacts may not seem big, but collectively we determine the health of our community with our transportation and energy choices," said Scott Bernstein, president of the Center for Neighborhood Technology.

To calculate your energy consumption, all the AirHead system requires is information about electricity bills, driving habits and other energy uses. Plug the information into the calculator and in less than a minute it will spit out how much pollution you create in one month.

Most energy-saving practices do not require a radical change in lifestyle. And you can test the effectiveness of your actions. Airhead will keep track of your progress in a monthly pollution profile.

Simple consumer decisions such as the choice of a hairdryer make a difference in energy consumption and air pollution.

The AirHead site includes a data base of more than 70,000 products by brand name to help consumers determine how much pollution they create. Looking to buy a new hairdryer? The site will help you find the least polluting model on the market.

The Web site (http://www.airhead.org) is likely to boost bank accounts, as energy savings translate into financial savings. The arrival of the site comes at a good time, as the country continues to suffer from a shortage of cheap power.

There are clear connections between energy use and environmental destruction. Many environmentalists say energy consumption is second only to population growth on the list of environmental concerns. According to the Alliance to Save Energy, energy use is responsible for 80 percent of all air pollution and 88 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions.

Despite a growing need for renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal power, fossil fuels continue to power cars, homes and industries because they are cheap, plentiful and readily available.

"Giving people information about their everyday choices is the first step in encouraging better decisions," said Airhead project director Jen Mcgraw.

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