Energy Diet

An Introduction in Four Parts

One: On Dieting

Dieting is hard.

It takes a lot of effort, conscious thought and discipline, and you frequently find yourself falling into temptation. If your friends are not supportive, you are doomed to fail from the outset. But if all goes well, after a long and sustained practice it hopefully becomes second nature.

And so it goes with an Energy Diet.

Choosing to reduce your carbon footprint demands concentration, and it also requires a lot of support. However, no matter what the Beatles might say, sometimes “a little help from my friends” just isn’t enough; sometimes you need expert guidance.

So I asked National Geographic to help me.

Two: On Being Me

I’ve been concerned about nature and the environment since early childhood.

My favorite books, when I was in elementary school, were a set of encyclopedias on the animal kingdom, which I would read and reread, even though I knew them by heart. I used to say that I wanted to grow up to be a zoologist… but that didn’t pan out and I became a doctor instead.

Nevertheless, throughout the years I have come to realize that I do not practice what I preach. Concern about nature notwithstanding, I find myself taking a lot of ecological missteps. There is a lot of room for improvement, in my quest to reduce my carbon track into a small number of footsteps. And the best moment to start is now.

Three: On Being Here

Contrary to expectations, I believe that living in Portugal will make it easier for me to lose my metaphorical Weight on this diet. In fact, this country has progressed slowly and steadily in its march towards a greener outlook on life. We have extensive windmill farms, solar panels are a very common sight, and the government has, over the last few years, given tax breaks to households which have gone green and invested in solar or wind power.

Recycling, too, is on the rise, though it’s sometimes hard to put into practice. (In my town, dumpsters for recyclables aren’t always easily accessible; in our household, we opt to collect recyclable items over a couple a days, and only walk to the Recycling point a few times a week.)

I am also glad to say that (though I played no part in its construction) the apartment I live in is quite energy efficient, being reasonably cool in the summer and reasonably warm in the winter, minimizing our energy expenditure on heating and cooling. But it can still be optimized.

Four: On Where We’ll End Up

Hopefully, this experience will help me correct the major flaws in my Energy usage… and perhaps some minor ones, as well. I think it will be lengthy enough to help create habits, and turn this greener way of living into my own way of life.

I’ve too often heard the “why-bother” excuse that a single person won’t make a difference in an ocean of pollution. But I believe they will.

And if I can convince one or two households to join me on this trip, then my job will be done.