The NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information reported that the first 11 months of 2020 were the fourth hottest year to date on record. The number of Atlantic storms set a record in the hurricane season just ended. The 15th Arctic Report Card showed that snow and ice continue to melt at an alarming rate, which helped trigger wildfires in the northernmost regions in Russia. President-elect Joe Biden said the United States will rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, the most world’s most ambitious effort to save the environment.
Yet, with all the red flags about the world’s worsening climate, Americans continue in habits widely known to cause more serious problems.
Here are 10 of the worst bad habits:
1. Gas guzzlers. Forget Tesla. The American appetite for cars has turned from small, fuel-efficient sedans and coupes to sport utility vehicles, crossovers and pickups. The lumbering full-sized Ford F-150 pickup is still America’s bestselling vehicle, with its big engine and 16 mpg.
2. Use of old lightbulbs. Walk through any American home, and how many people have halogen incandescents, compact fluorescent lamps and light-emitting diodes? You’re just as likely to find incandescents, which can be three times less energy efficient.
3. Not weatherproofing. Many American homes leak huge amounts of heat during cold temperatures. Check to see if you, your family or neighbors have taken time to caulk.
4. Not using solar heat. In the United Kingdom, 1.5 million homes have solar panels. Multiply that by five to six times for the United States. Yet, it’s a tiny fraction of the total number of homes in America.
5. Coal to heat the home. By some estimates, 130,000 American households still use coal for heat. For some reason, half are in Pennsylvania.
6. Wasting water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says the average American household loses 9,400 gallons of water annually from household leaks. Most of these could be repaired without much trouble.
7. Not eating all food bought. According to waste-management company RTS, “The United States is the global leader in food waste, with Americans discarding nearly 40 million tons of food every year. That’s 80 billion pounds of food and equates to more than $161 billion, approximately 219 pounds of waste per person and 30-40 percent of the US food supply.”
8. Underinflated tires.
Inflate tires to their proper pressure to get the best gas mileage.
9. Flying on airplanes. Before the pandemic, tens of millions of Americans traveled by air each year. In 2018, 780 million passengers flew on U.S. routes, and the figure was rising.
10. Not taking public transportation. Over 110 million people drive to work every day, according to Brookings. Seventy-six percent of these people drive alone.