To help me endure the long pandemic winter of working alone from home, I’ve been taking advantage of educational opportunities online – mostly so I can hear another voice to break the silence of my days.

One virtual class I recently completed (and highly recommend) was a free course on the health impacts of climate change.

With climate change a regular topic in the news cycle, and in the world of agriculture, I wanted to brush up on the basics.

It got me thinking about the big and little choices I can make as an informed consumer to help slow or prevent climate change.

For example, I’ve been thinking a lot about how much time I spent in my car, commuting back and forth to work, before the pandemic.

I’ve sat for more hours than I can count idling at stoplights and in traffic jams, burning up fuel and breathing in car exhaust. Obviously, I’m not the only one driving a lot less during the pandemic. We’ve all seen photos online of how the traffic smog cleared as countries locked down revealing landscapes that haven’t been seen in decades.

A recent estimate confirmed that U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions plummeted in 2020, down more than 10% to their lowest levels in more than three decades.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), transportation remains the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, accounting for 28% of emissions.

So we can all help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change by working from home, using public transportation when available and choosing renewable fuels, such as corn-based ethanol.

Indeed, fueling your vehicle with ethanol – made here in Iowa – can lower greenhouse gas emissions and benefit air quality.

A new study, conducted by scientists at Harvard and other universities, shows that corn ethanol’s carbon intensity is 46% lower than that of gasoline. In addition, the study found that some corn ethanol, depending on how it's made, can achieve up to a 61% reduction in GHG emissions.

Personally, I like to fuel up my car with E15 when it’s available at the pump.

And as I learned from the online climate change class, air quality is vital to our health, impacting rates of asthma, chronic lung disease and cancer, particularly in vulnerable populations (children and people over the age of 60).

Not to mention, ethanol is a home-grown fuel that boosts Iowa’s economy. Iowa is the number-one producer of ethanol in the nation.

A growing number of Iowa fuel retailers are boosting biofuel offerings to give customers a lower-cost, environmentally friendly fuel choice.

So if you want to make change now, choose ethanol and other renewable fuels at the pump. Because as the pandemic as shown, we can make a difference in reducing greenhouse gas emissions – one gallon of E10 at a time.

By Teresa Bjork. Teresa is Iowa Farm Bureau's senior communications coordinator.