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Climate Masters: Eugene’s Carbon-Fighting Superheroes

May 20, 2008

Eugene, OR – If you think one person or one family can't make a difference when it comes to climate change, about 50 Eugene residents are willing to prove you wrong. They're the first participants in "Climate Masters," a new program developed at the University of Oregon to teach people exactly how to reduce their carbon footprints. In the past year, the Climate Masters have managed to cut global warming pollution in their own households by 20 percent, or about two tons per person per year.

According to program director Sarah Mazze, they didn't think it was all that tough.

"We heard more about the ways that people were enjoying the changes, to be honest. People said that they liked slowing down, to plan for actions that would reduce their emissions."

Mazze says the goal is to get people to see the bigger picture, in addition to making "greener" individual choices.

"The policy changes and technology are crucial for tackling the problem of climate change. So, the more people that understand climate change and the ways that we contribute greenhouse gas emissions, the more likely we are to have solid policy."

Mazze adds there was a nice side benefit they hadn't expected: people also reported feeling a greater connection to their communities. They focused on changes they could make in their houses, yards, and food and transportation choices, and shared information with their neighbors. The University of Oregon Climate Leadership Initiative is talking with several other Oregon cities, including Corvallis and Roseburg, which want to offer the program, too.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR