December 11, 2013
We hear about Climate Change almost every day and about its negative effects on our planet, but what exactly is it? More importantly, what is its cause? Here’s all you need to know about climate change and how to make a difference.
As defined by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), climate change “refers to any significant change in the measures of climate lasting for an extended period of time.” Thus it should not be confused with global warming which is only one aspect of this phenomenon. Global warming only refers to the recent and ongoing rise in global average temperature near the Earth’s surface caused mainly by greenhouse gas emissions. Nonetheless, the warming of the Earth’s surface is causing climate patterns to change.
As the US EPA explains, Earth’s average temperature has risen 1.4 degrees F over the past century. This rise has caused changes around the world in rainfall with more floods, droughts, intense rain and severe heat waves. It has also affected oceans and glaciers, ice caps are melting meanwhile oceans are warming and becoming more acidic.
The recent climate change is mainly a result of human activity. Unfortunately with industrialization came the release of vast amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into our atmosphere mainly from the burning of fossil fuels. However, greenhouse gases are also caused by industrial processes, some agricultural processes and deforestation.
Some greenhouse gases are necessary, trapping energy in the atmosphere while warming it up, this is known as the “greenhouse effect.” Too much of this is dangerous, changing Earth’s climate has negative effects on human health and ecosystems. Nonetheless, according to the US EPA some changes are unavoidable as carbon dioxide can stay in the atmosphere for almost a century.
This doesn’t mean we can’t reduce the risks. All we have to do is try our best to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and prepare for unavoidable changes as many governments around the world have already started to do. To reduce gas emissions we can all do our own little part with easy steps at home, on the road and the office. Here is a list of tips by the US EPA.
1. Change five lights: replace your most frequently used light fixtures or the lightbulbs in them with ENERGY STAR qualified products.
2. Look for ENERGY STAR when buying new products for your home, whether they by appliances, lighting, heating and cooling equipment, electronics, and office equipment.
3. Heat and cool smartly: change air filters regularly and use a programmable thermostat.
4. Seal and insulate your home: reduce air leaks and stop drafts by weather stripping and using caulk.
5. Reduce, reuse, recycle: this reduces greenhouse gas emissions from resource extraction, manufacturing, and dispel.
6. Use water efficiently
7. Be green in your yard
8. Purchase green power, an environmentally friendly electricity generated form renewable energy sources such as wind and the sun.
9. Calculate your household’s carbon footprint.
10. And of course, spread the word.
At the Office:
1. Manage your office equipment energy use better
2. Look for ENERGY STAR qualified products for the office
3. Ask your office building manager if your building has earned the ENERGY STAR
4. Use less energy for your commute by swathing to public transportation, carpooling, or biking.
5. Reduce, reuse, recycle
6. Use Green Power
7. Encourage your organization to develop a greenhouse gas inventory
On the road:
1. Buy smart: Purchase a fuel-efficient, low greenhouse gas vehicle
2. Drive Smart: easy on the brakes and gas pedal, avoid hard accelerations reduce time spent idling, and unload unnecessary items to reduce weight.
3. Remember maintenance: regular tune-ups, use the recommended grade of motor oil to increase fuel efficiency.
4. Check your tire pressure regularly. Under-inflation leads to higher greenhouse gas emissions.
5. Give your car a break by using public transportation, walking, biking or carpooling.
6. Use renewable fuels
We hope these tips are helpful with the missions to reduce climate change and to have a provided a little understanding behind it.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons (3)