Take the Minnesota Energy Challenge

In the documentary

“An Inconvenient Truth,†Al Gore refers to global warming as a “planetary emergency.†Skeptics question whether the current warming is anything other than a natural cycle in climate. According to many scientists, however, the evidence that our planet is heating up–in large part due to human influence–is overwhelming and undeniable.

No matter what you might believe, the overall message is clear: We have to work together to make the world a better place, and we have to start now.

One way Minnesotans are doing this is through the Minnesota Energy Challenge.

The brainchild of the Center for Energy and Environment (CEE), the Minnesota Energy Challenge was launched last year when CEE and arctic explorer (and fellow Minnesotan) Will Steger joined forces and began raising public awareness about global warming, and people started paying attention and asking questions.

“We created a website where people  can calculate their energy use and, at the same time, learn how  to reduce it,†comments Judy Thommes, marketing manager for the  Center for Energy and Environment, a nonprofit organization that works to promote public interest through the responsible and  efficient use of natural and economic resources.

Not only would the website empower people to take action, she explains, but inspire them to ask neighbors, friends, employers and city officials to do the same.

By visiting www.mnenergychallenge.org, participants can calculate their energy use and learn simple steps to reduce that consumption. The website isn’t based on points, but rather calculates the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions generated. As participants select actions that reduce their use, the website shows how much money they’re saving and how much CO2 will be avoided from going into the atmosphere.

Everyone is part of a team (when you register you’re automatically registered as part of your city team). In addition to your city team, you can assign savings to up to three more teams. To date over 3,700 residents and businesses have taken the Challenge.

Some parishioners of Basilica of St. Mary–one of the congregations participating–have set a goal of signing up 1,000 members to take part in the Challenge.

“This is a great way to raise awareness and take action,†says  Robin Linde, a Basilica parishioner and the outreach coordinator for the Archdiocesan Global Warming Action Team. “We’re making changes and recommendations where we can. We begin by making the easy changes, such as recycling, printing/copying double-sided, purchasing recycled paper, using more earth-friendly cleaning supplies, and then we look at our energy use and research the cost and investment in using our energy more efficiently.â€

Thommes hopes the website helps people realize that energy use impacts the environment all around the world.

“It’s important for us to take steps to reduce our energy use so that we can continue to enjoy the great outdoors,†she comments.

The good news is that we can slow global warming, but we have to take action. The Challenge is the perfect way to become part of the solution for a cleaner, healthier tomorrow. To sign up, visit www.mnenergychallenge.org.