One SA woman converted after seeing Al Gore preach in An Inconvenient Truth
Each one of us is a cause of global warming, but each of us can make choices to change that with the things we buy, with the electricity we use, the cars we drive ... The solutions are in our hands. We just have to have the determination to make them happen.
- Former VP Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth
An energetic aura emanates from Sandy Enders as she talks about global warming. Sitting in her Northside home, she smiles big and her dark eyes open wide, no matter the subject. Enders confesses she’s a global-warming neophyte, but she sounds like an old pro. She’ll talk your solar panels off about gas mileage, carbon-dioxide emissions, and “windtricity” (wind-produced electricity you can buy through CPS Energy). And she’ll tell just about anybody who’ll listen about treading lighter on the environment.
|Turn on your inner environmentalist, Sandy Enders says. Use energy-efficient bulbs.|
For most of her life, Enders, an early-childhood-development professor at San Antonio College, has advocated for children’s issues. Taking on global warming is new for the 53-year-old mother of two, but after seeing An Inconvenient Truth, the documentary chronicling former Vice President Al Gore’s stump tour against global warming, she was outraged, disgusted, intrigued, and, as it turns out, highly uneducated. “I’d always heard all those terms `associated with global warming`, but I didn’t know what it all meant,” she said.
In case you haven’t seen it, the film combines the science of global warming with chest-constricting images of its effects: shrinking polar ice caps, melting Alaskan permafrost, rising sea levels. All over the world, animals are being forced from their habitats; hurricanes and other natural disasters are stronger and more frequent, and, as South Texans well know, it’s hotter than ever.
Those disturbing images didn’t sit well with Enders, so she got to thinking. “I can’t do major stuff,” she said. But, as the film emphasized, every little bit counts.
| “It’s like paying it forward. If I give it to 20 friends, and they give it to 20 friends, well, it can really spread.”
- Sandy Enders
Enders made several modest changes to her lifestyle, based on recommendations from Climatecrisis.net, An Inconvenient Truth’s website. It started with changing the traditional incandescent bulbs in her home to energy-efficient compact-fluorescent lights, or CFLs. It’s one of the easiest ways to make a big impact on energy use, says Carol Werner, executive director of the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit dedicated to environmentally sustainable societies.
“If we did that in all of our homes and in our office buildings, you could reduce the need for a number of power plants. It really does add up,” she says. “Each little thing that we do, if a whole lot of us do it, it really does add up.”
Replacing one incandescent bulb with a CFL will reduce CO2 emissions by 300 pounds annually, according to Climatecrisis.net. And if every home in the nation replaced just one incandescent bulb with a CFL, it would be the same as removing a million cars from American roads, according to the Energy Star program, a partnership between the EPA and the U.S. energy department.
And Enders no longer drinks bottled water. Now, she always drinks from the same San Antonio-proud Bill Miller’s mug, because plastic bottles usually end up in the trash bin. By reducing garbage just 10 percent, one person can cut 1,200 pounds of CO2 emissions from the atmosphere.
Enders also plans on a big purchase in the near future, all in the name of the environment: a Toyota Prius hybrid, which gets 50-60 miles per gallon. By ditching her Honda Accord, which is roughly half as efficient as a Prius, Enders can reduce her carbon emissions by about 30,000 pounds a year. But if Enders and her husband Steve can skip the car altogether, she says, they do. “We walk to Target instead of drive.”
As Enders began living greener, she also began spreading the eco-gospel. One of the most important ways to reduce global warming, an eco-expert said, is through education, and friends telling friends.
“I’ve told everyone I could think of,” Enders says. “I realized this is something you can’t ignore.” Enders bought dozens more CFLs and packaged them individually with a bright gold flier explaining how the lightbulbs can reduce global warming. The handout lists some facts about CFLs; and it implores folks to see An Inconvenient Truth and visit its website. “It’s changed my life!” her flier says. “We can make a difference and a better world for our kids.”
“It’s like paying it forward,” Enders adds. “If I give it to 20 friends, and they give it to 20 friends, well, it can really spread.”