Some people know it as “global warming”, others, “global climate disruption”. No matter what you call it, there’s no denying that climate change is real. The topic is everywhere- in the news, on social media, amongst our daily conversations, and finally, in our Presidential and national debates. No doubt, conversation about climate change is brewing. Since we’re on the topic, we wonder, is it too late to combat climate change?
There are also those that have tried to ignore or simply deny the effects of climate change. But it’s happening right before our eyes. Here are some vital changes you may have noticed:
- Higher Temperature Rises. Also known as an increase in the Earth’s heat energy, higher temperature rises have contributed to a continuous heat wave around the globe. You may have noticed seasons have become steadily hotter and more extreme. Some effects include (1) shorter winter seasons which hinder the likelihood of winter sports such as snowboarding, skiing, ice fishing, and sledding (2) a rise in health issues such as heat strokes, heat cramps, and asthma attacks (3) and an increase in the population of ticks and mosquitoes that thrive in warmer temperatures and may spread infectious diseases.
- Droughts. Imagine dry soil, cracked earth, barren land, and low water supply and you can picture the effects of a drought. As temperatures continue to rise, an abnormal increase in precipitation will lead to higher rainfall and lower snowfall. When there is more rainfall than snowfall, increases in the evaporation and transpiration of water occur, which lead to a faster disappearance of our water supply. Droughts and the loss of soil treatment will make it harder for crops to thrive, and as a result, may increase the cost of our foods and in some cases, maybe even their disappearance.
- Ocean Acidification. Although not yet felt by humans, the pH level in our oceans has decreased in the last few hundred years due to an increase in CO2 absorbed by seawater. This leads to a more acidic, marine-type water. When this happens, beautiful underwater inhabitants like the coral reefs will be severely affected. Currently, 93% of the Great Barrier Reef has already been bleached and destroyed due to acidification. Ocean acidification also affects calcifying species like oysters, clams, sea urchins, and planktons who need to produce shells to protect themselves. Even if you don’t eat shellfish or enjoy days at the beach, you may still be affected. The food we that we eat, may eat shellfish to survive. Countries that rely on food from the ocean to live and to provide jobs will be poverty-stricken. To sum it up, our entire food chain will collapse.
- Loss of Habitats. One of the greatest threats to a living species is climate change. The earth offers a variety of ecological or environmental area for different living organisms to survive. When habitats disappear, so will the animals that call it home, much like the polar bears and their homes in the Arctic. The warming in the Arctic is occurring twice as fast as anywhere else in the world. As a result, the polar bear population in the southern Beaufort Sea (native to northeast Alaska and Canada) have declined by a heartbreaking 40% since the new millennium.
- Rises in Sea Level. This is caused by two factors — glacial melts and the warming of the ocean. As sea level continues to rise, beautiful islands, beaches, cities, and countries around the world will disappear underwater. This has already happened to five of the Solomon Islands near Australia, all of which have been submerged underwater. One day (and that may be soon), the iconic islands of Bora Bora and Bali will too be lost cities, only existent to surviving sea creatures.
- Increases in Wildfires. As Earth continues to warm, wet areas on our planet continue to more wet and dry areas continue to get drier. Add dry land to wildfire and we’ve got a problem. Wildfire season is getting longer and climate change plays a huge role. Once started, wildfires thrive in hot and dry places which threaten landscapes and the homes of animals and humans. This has been evident in California over the years.
The list goes on. Although it sounds like the world is heading towards an inevitable end, we must stay optimistic. Despite what the naysayers have said, it is still possible to slow the effects of climate change and restore parts of Earth that have been damaged. Our first step as a society is to accept the truth–we are the cause of the Earth’s rapid climate change. However, we can also be a positive change if we work together to take action.
It’s Not Too Late. Here’s What You Can Do to Help:
- Reduce Your Carbon Footprint. About four tons of new greenhouse gasses are emitted from cars each year. Rethink your means of transportation (1) use public transportation (2) carpool (3) bike (4) or walk. It’s a great way to save gas, see the city, spend time with your friends (or strangers!), and utilize time. For example, walking to your destination is a great way to get your daily 20 mins of exercise.
- Eat Less Meat (Or Go Vegetarian!). Agriculture is one of the biggest contributors to climate change. Due to the large agricultural business in the United States, huge amounts of methane — another greenhouse gas — is produced by livestock through their digestive system. The production of red meat contributes to 20%-50% of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, more water and land usage are required to produce a pound of meat when compared to green produce. Maybe you can round your friends and challenge each other to eat less meat per week?
- Use Smarter Energy. The replacement of one regular light bulb to one compact fluorescent light bulb can help eliminate 150 pounds or more CO2 per year. The next time you make a purchase, look for Energy Star appliances. Other things you can do is to (1) adjust your thermostat to 78 degrees Fahrenheit or higher in the summer and 68 degrees Fahrenheit or lower in the winter (2) unplug or turn off appliances that are not in use.
- Learn to Weatherize Your Home. When you properly weatherize your home, you save both on money and energy (double win!). You can improve the insulation and the circulation of your home in these ways: (1) seal the cracks near your windows and under your doors (2) clean or replace the screen filter in your vents to allow better airflow (3) insulate your pipes with pipe-insulating foam or sleeve (4) install a glass door around your open fireplace to prevent cold/hot air from entering or leaving the house.
- Limit Your Water Usage. Many states and countries around the world currently face some of the worst droughts in years. Be smarter about your water. (1) Water your lawn/garden in the early morning or late evening (2) only wash your car 1-2 times every 3 months (3) reduce your shower time to no more than 10 minutes (4) turn off your faucet when you brush your teeth/wash your dishes (5) occupy your home with drought-tolerant plants (6) invest in low-flush toilets/low-flow shower heads (7) get handy and fix any leaking pipes or faucets in your home.
- Practice the 3 R’s. Ask yourself these questions before you buy or throw useful things away (in this order): (1) Do I really need this item? (2) How can I reuse this item? (3) Is this item recyclable or compostable? (4) Can someone else benefit from this item once I am done with it?
- Be More Aware With Your Purchases. As you walk down the aisle of your favorite grocery store, reusable bag in hand, keep an eye out for products with less plastic packaging, products that are recyclable or compostable, or products packaged in bulk. Thrift new items/ products/clothes. Or rally your friends and trade the things you no longer use.
- Plant a Tree a Year. Trees are amazing and can store large amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. A tree can absorb as much as 48 lbs of carbon dioxide per year. This is about a ton of CO2 by the time it’s 40 years old. Imagine how much carbon dioxide a whole forest can sequester.
- Keep Yourself On Track With Eco-friendly Apps. There are many useful eco-friendly apps to help you create a more sustainable lifestyle. Note: some of these apps may only be available for iPhones or Androids.
- iRecycle – Locates a recycling center for you to recycle items such as clothes, household items, electronics, and gardening waste. Download the app to see more.
- PaperKarma – Tired of receiving paper advertisements and coupons you’ll never use in your mailbox? Download PaperKarma to get rid of your junk mail and save paper with one simple click.
- EcoChallenge – Who doesn’t love a fun game? EcoChallenge is filled with many activities that challenge you to reach your goals of being more sustainable. Each week, a new sustainable topic is added to the list and you can compete with friends and family to complete a task to be more conscious of your lifestyle.
- GoodGuide – Shop more economically and more environmentally-friendly with the help of GoodGuide. The app rates products on a scale from zero to ten (zero being the worst and ten being the best) for their health, environmental, and social impact.
- Gas Chubby – Gas Chubby is a great way to track your gas mileage and set reminders for yourself to help maintain your vehicle (you’ll never forget an oil change again!). You can help slow climate change by making sure your car runs smoothly and performing regular routine checkups.
- Zero Carbon – This is a great app to keep track of your carbon footprint while you travel and when you use energy. Zero Carbon also gives tips on how to lower your impact on the environment. Another similar app is Oroeco, which claims to be the “world’s best carbon footprint calculator”.
- #Climate – #Climate utilizes social media for the good. It filters all the environmental organizations in the world and tailors them to your interests. #Climate also provides information on climate change, environmental issues, and offer tips for solutions. You can link the app to your Twitter and Facebook account to easily share content and spread awareness to your friends.
- Dropcountr – A water conservation app that allows you to connect your water usage to your water utility company. Very useful if you want to track the amount of water you use each day and learn more about how you can set a limit to conserve water and save money.
- Seafood Watch – Want to be more eco-conscious about the seafood you consume? This app lists restaurants that serve ocean-friendly seafood and provides information on the kinds of fish to eat or not eat.
- Ecoviate – Ecoviate is a platform to spread ‘social sustainability.’ The app provides eco-friendly tips, lists products, and details activities you can do to reduce your impact on the environment.
- Farmstand – Farmstand helps you find all the farmers markets in your area, find stores with locally grown foods, and share your local farm finds to promote your local market.
- PIPs (Positive Impact Points) – You’ll love this one. PIPs is an app that rewards you with ‘social good currency’ for doing good things.
- Use Your Voice, Spread the Word. One of the greatest ways combat climate change is to educate others. Spread awareness amongst your friends and family. Talk about the importance of sustainability and what they can do to slow climate change. Take it a step further and tell your government that climate change is an important issue that needs to be addressed in Congress. Sign petitions and support environmental organizations such as the 350.org, the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), and the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC).
Lastly, share this article to bring more awareness to climate change. Your voice matters!