10 Solutions for CLIMATE CHANGE
It has become increasingly clear that climate change is not only real but beginning to bite. Now that much of the population is finally feeling the urgency, and that the Covid-19 lockdown has put much of our frenetic commerce on hold, we have space for thinking and discussing ways and means to combat climate change and save our planet. Here are 10 most pragmatic solutions to this global problem:
- Abandon Fossil Fuels
The first challenge is eliminating the burning of coal, oil and, eventually, natural gas. This is perhaps the most daunting challenge as denizens of richer nations who literally eat, wear, work, play and even sleep on the products made from such fossilized sunshine.
Oil is the lubricant of the global economy; hidden inside such ubiquitous items as plastic and corn, and fundamental to the transportation of both consumers and goods. Coal is the substrate, supplying roughly half the electricity used worldwide—a percentage that is likely to grow, according to the International Energy Agency.
So, try to employ alternatives when possible—plant-derived plastics, biodiesel, wind power—and to invest in the change, be it by divesting from oil stocks or investing in companies practicing carbon capture and storage.
- Upgrade Infrastructure
Buildings worldwide contribute around one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions, even though investing in thicker insulation and other cost-effective, temperature-regulating steps can save money in the long run. Electric grids are at capacity or overloaded, but power demands continue to rise. And bad roads can lower the fuel economy of even the most efficient vehicle. Investing in new infrastructure, or radically upgrading existing highways and transmission lines, would help cut greenhouse gas emissions and drive economic growth in developing countries. Although it takes a lot of cement, a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, to construct new buildings and roads, energy-efficient buildings and improved cement-making processes (such as using alternative fuels to fire up the kiln) could reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the developed world and prevent them in the developing world.
- Move Closer to Work
One way to dramatically curtail transportation fuel needs is to move closer to work, use mass transit, or switch to walking, cycling or some other mode of transport that does not require anything other than human energy. There is also the option of working from home and telecommuting several days a week. Cutting down on long-distance travel would also help cut most notably aeroplane flights which are one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions and a source that arguably releases such emissions in the worst possible spot (higher in the atmosphere). Flights are also one of the few sources of globe-warming pollution for which there is not a viable alternative. Restricting flying to only critical, long-distance trips would help curb such emissions.
- Consume Less
The easiest way to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions is simply to buy less stuff. Whether by forgoing an automobile or employing a reusable grocery sack, cutting back on consumption results in fewer fossil fuels being burned to extract, produce and ship products around the globe. So, think green when making purchases.
- Be Efficient
A potentially simpler and even bigger impact can be made by doing more with less. Citizens of many developed countries are profligate wasters of energy, whether by speeding in a gas-guzzling sport-utility vehicle or leaving the lights on when not in a room. Good driving and good car maintenance can limit the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from a vehicle.
Similarly, employing more efficient refrigerators, air conditioners and other appliances can cut electric bills. Such efforts can also be usefully employed at work, whether that means installing more efficient turbines at the power plant or turning the lights off when you leave the office.
- Stop Cutting Down Trees
Every year, 33 million acres of forests are cut down. Timber harvesting in the tropics alone contributes 1.5 billion metric tons of carbon to the atmosphere. That represents 20 percent of human-made greenhouse gas emissions and a source that could be avoided relatively easily. Improved agricultural practices along with paper recycling and forest management could quickly eliminate this significant chunk of emissions.
Televisions, stereo equipment, computers, battery chargers and a host of other gadgets and appliances consume more energy when seemingly switched off, so unplug them instead. Purchasing energy-efficient gadgets can also save both energy and money—and thus prevent more greenhouse gas emissions. Swapping old incandescent lightbulbs for more efficient replacements, such as compact fluorescents would save billions of kilowatt-hours.
Simply making our homes more efficient can substantially cut the energy needed to heat and cool. Adding insulation, weather stripping and caulking around your home can cut energy bills by more than 25 percent.
- Don’t Drink Bottled Water
Landfills already contain more than 2 million tons of plastic bottles. And 1.5 million barrels of oil are used to manufacture water bottle every year. And those bottles take more than 1,000 years to biodegrade. Yeah, that reusable water bottle does sound like a good idea.
All may have unintended consequences, making the solution worse than the original problem. But it is clear that at least some form of geo-engineering will likely be required: capturing carbon dioxide before it is released and storing it in some fashion, either deep beneath the earth, at the bottom of the ocean or in carbonate minerals. Such carbon capture and storage is critical to any serious effort to combat climate change.
The writer is a member of staff.