Global warming isn’t just a scientific buzzword or problem that should merely be discussed by heads of states or corporations around the world. It’s an alarming environmental issue that affects each and every one of us and unless we do something about it, this serious phenomenon will continue to impact us even on a personal level and generations after.
When we talk about global warming, we don’t just mean a rise in the earth’s temperature. That is one but at the dawn of the 20th century, we are seeing more of global warming’s other disastrous consequences, aside from increased temperatures—from more severe hurricanes to the threat of wildlife extinction.
Consider this: the rate by which global warming affects us has accelerated 3 times faster over the past 3 decades. So by the end of the century, about 150,000 people will have died from global warming.
Given that global warming concerns everyone, we should all likewise do our share to decelerate its progress. Here are 3 major effects of global warming and how we can help:
By the year 2100, the average global temperature is expected to be 5.8 degrees hotter.
For instance, a report from Arctic Climate Assessment over a 4 year period showed that average temperatures in Russia, Western Canada and Alaska have all increased by twice the global average.
This increase in temperature is mainly due to the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. Research shows we release 37 billion metric tons of CO2 annually. Consequently, the levels of CO2 in our atmosphere have increased up to 34% since the 1700 industrial revolution.
What you can do:
- Boost energy efficiency by using technologies that consume less energy to get the same or higher level of service and comfort. Use LED lights or compact fluorescents for instance or solar panels that save you both hundreds of kilowatt hours and dollars in the long-run. Or use more energy efficient appliances and gadgets at home.
- Go green on transportation. Ensure your car is fuel-efficient. Switch to low-carbon fuel. Better yet, commute to work to reduce carbon emission. Or if you work nearby, just walk or ride a bike.
- Employ more earth-friendly alternatives. They can be in the form of using plant derived plastics instead or biodiesel.
- Cut down on long distance air travel. Airplanes and jets are not only major sources of greenhouse gas emissions; they also release this quicker and higher in the atmosphere.
The intensity and frequency of deadly hurricanes and tropical storms have doubled since the last 40 years.
In the United States alone, around $100 billion worth of property damage was incurred for the year 2005 due to hurricanes brought about by global warming. Again, this is due to the increase in carbon dioxide emissions that cause the earth’s temperature to heat up and the waters to record abnormally high temperatures. And because of the huge irregularity in the near surface temperature of the earth, polar glaciers are continuously melting and sea levels rising. Sea levels have been found to increase by 10 to 20 centimeters in the past century.
What you can do:
- Prepare for the impacts. The effects of extreme weather conditions are now at hand such as severe heat waves, flooding and growing wildfire risks. What were once easy to address have now become more and more difficult so arm yourself with the right resources and skills to face unfavorable weather conditions. Help others as well by training or instructing them for these situations.
- Buy less. Much of what we buy and consume are produced and shipped using fossil fuels– a major culprit of global warming. When you buy less or more in bulk, you also save money and reduce the amount of packaging materials—plastic, boxes, ropes—which can be a source of pollution in our seas, among others.
Over 1 million species are now facing extinction due to global warming. By 2050, 15-37% of our plant and animal species could be wiped out.
This is mainly due to the destruction of habitats and ecosystems brought about by high temperatures and melting polar caps.
What you can do:
- Plant trees that absorb more of the CO2. Deforestation currently accounts for 10%of the world’s heat trapping emissions. Having more trees around also means more livable habitats for endangered species.
- Paper recycling helps reduce the demand for tree cutting which kills forests.
- Stop buying or supporting those selling endangered animals. Some may be cute or can be a source of livelihood but the rate at which they face extinction becomes faster if they aren’t allowed to mingle in their natural habitat and reproduce.
Just by following some of the actionable solutions mentioned, you can do you your part in reducing gas emissions by at least 80% by mid-century. With these personal lifestyle changes, you can now make your mark in reducing your carbon footprint on earth.