Some call it global warming, others global climate disruption, and a few consider it ‘a normal warming of the earth.’ No matter what you call it, there’s no denying climate change is real. The topic is everywhere — in the news, on social media newsfeeds, and finally, in our Presidential and national debates. No doubt, the climate conversation is brewing. Though it may seem like the world is ending, here’s what you can do to stop it.
Many 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:
- High Temperature Rises. Also known as an increase in the Earth’s heat energy, high temperature rises have contributed to a continual heat wave around the globe. You may have noticed seasons have become steadily hotter and more extreme. Some effects include: shorter winter seasons, which hinder the likelihood of winter sports such as snowboarding, skiing, ice fishing, and sledding; a rise in health issues such as heat strokes, heat cramps, and asthma attacks; and an increase in the population of ticks and mosquitoes who thrive in warmer temperatures and who can spread infectious diseases.
- Droughts. Imagine dry soil, cracked earth, barren land, low water supply and you get the idea of the effects of a drought. As temperatures continue to rise, precipitation increase leads to higher rainfall and lower snowfall. When we have more rainfall than snowfall, it increases the evaporation and transpiration of water. Eventually our water supply disappears faster. Add this phenomenal to droughts and the loss of soil treatment, crops will have a harder time thriving, resulting in more expensive produce and even the disappearance of our favorite foods.
- Ocean Acidification. Although not yet felt by humans, the pH level in our oceans have decreased in the last few hundred years due to an increase in CO2 that has been 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 are not safe from the effects. The food we eat who eats shellfish will starve. Countries that rely on food from the ocean to live and 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, climate change damages the different ecological or environmental area all living organisms need to survive. When habitats disappear, so will the animals that call it home. Think about the polar bears and their homes in the Arctic. The warming in the Arctic is happening 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 whopping 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. Did you know, five of the Solomon Islands near Australia have already submerged underwater? One day (and soon), the iconic islands of Bora Bora and Bali will too be lost cities, only existent to surviving sea creatures.
- Increases in Wildfires. As the Earth warms, wet areas of our planet are getting wetter and dry areas are getting 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, threatening landscapes, animals’ and people’s homes and lives. Anyone see those wildfires in California lately? It’s like a horrible scene from Mordor.
And the list goes on. It sounds like the world is heading towards an inevitable end and we might as well give up, right? Wrong! We must stay optimistic because despite what the naysayers have said, it is possible to slow the effects of climate change and restore a part of what has been damaged to this beautiful, pristine world. Our first step as a society is to accept the truth–we are the cause of the Earth’s rapid climate change. But we can also be the positive change. It’s time to work together to take action — and take action now. Al Gore once said, “The will to act itself is a renewable resource.” It’s a hope we are holding on to. Here’s what you can do to slow climate change:
The World is Ending (Here’s What You Can Do To Stop It)
- Take Your Car Out Less. About 4 tons of new greenhouse gasses are emitted from cars each year. Do the Earth a favor and change the way you get around. Give your car a rest the next time you go out and opt to use public transportation, carpool, bike or walk. It’s a great way to save gas, see the city, spend time with your friends (or strangers!) and utilize time. Walking to your destination is a great way to get your daily 20 mins of exercise in all the while saving you gas.
- 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. Producing red meat contributes to 20 to 50% of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions. It also requires more water and land to produce a small pound of meat compared to greens. So round your friends and challenge each other to eat less meat per week (do I hear Meatless Mondays?)!
- Use Energy Smarter. Replacing regular light bulbs to compact fluorescent light bulbs can help eliminate 150 pounds or more CO2 per year for each bulb. When buying bulbs, look for Energy Star appliances. Other things you can do include: adjust your thermostat to 78 degrees Fahrenheit or higher in the summer and 68 degrees Fahrenheit or lower in the winter; unplug or turn off appliances that are not in use to limit the amount of energy sucked from these standby items.
- Learn to Weatherize. Weatherizing your home can help you save both on money and energy (double win!). Improve the insulation and the circulation of your home by sealing the cracks near your windows and under your doors. Clean or replace your screen filter in your vents to allow better air flow. Insulate your pipes by wrapping a pipe-insulating foam or sleeve around them. If you have an open fireplace, consider installing a glass door surround to prevent cold or hot air from entering or leaving the house.
- Be More Thrifty About Your Water Use. Many states and countries around the world are facing some of the worst drought in years. Be smarter about your water. Water your lawn/garden in the early morning or late evening, only wash your car 1-2 times every 3 months, reduce your shower time to no more than 10 minutes, turn off your faucet when you brush your teeth/wash your dishes, occupy your home with drought-tolerant plants, invest in low-flush toilets/low-flow shower heads, and get handy—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 (live life in this order): “Do I really need this item? How can I reuse this item? Is this item recyclable or compostable?” and act accordingly.
- Be More Aware When Shopping. 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. Or instead of buying a new wardrobe every season, grab your friends and support your local thrift stores. You’ll be surprised about the unique things you may find.
- Plant a Tree a Year. Trees are amazing natural wonders that are able to store large amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. A tree can absorb as much as 48 lbs per year of carbon dioxide. This is about a ton 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 – Helps you look up places around your area that recycle things from clothes to household items to electronics and even your 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 incorporate sustainability into your lives.
- 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 out 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 use 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 your money.
- Seafood Watch – Want to be more eco-conscious about the seafood you are consuming? 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 way to go about this is to educate others. Spread awareness by educating your friends and family on the importance of sustainability and what they can do to slow climate change. Another great way is to let the government know 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!
The fate of the Earth is in our hands and you have the power to make a difference. You may be one person, but you alone can and will change the world day by day. One person can inspire another who can then inspire two more people. So whether it’s a big or small impact, know that your efforts count towards a greater good. You are not alone in this cause as there are many like-minded people who value this blue green dot that we live on (like us!). Mother Nature has nurtured this planet and provided so many resources to us that it’s time to give back and restore the natural cycle of the Earth. Remember, we only have one Earth. Now let’s go out and save the planet together, one effort at a time.