Have you noticed the latest weather reports? Las Vegas, a city known more for its neon lights in the desert than white snowflakes, saw five days of the wintery stuff in February, a once-in-a-decade-event. Luckily, visitors to the city were able to continue to stroll the strip, ducking into casinos to warm up and enjoy a game of roulette or their favorite slots. Meanwhile, the UK and other parts of Europe had record-breaking temperatures at the end of February – 21.2C in London on February 26! This could be considered a nice change from the usual cloudy and rainy weather, but, it’s one more indication that the climate is changing. And this is worrisome.
Can It Be Stopped?
The Earth has already seen major climate changes due to human activity, but even more has been set in motion and we don’t yet know the effects. There is a time lag between what we humans do and when it affects us. Even if we stopped greenhouse gas emissions now in 2019, global warming would continue for decades or even centuries. The carbon dioxide will linger in the atmosphere and the planet will need time to readjust. And if we do nothing to reduce emissions? Studies show that the global temperature will rise by an average of 6C. We are well on the way to passing tipping points, or potentially irreversible changes, such as an ice-free Arctic post-summer melt season.
This does not mean steps cannot be taken to avoid the worst effects. A two-level response is needed. First, greenhouse gas emissions MUST be reduced – known as “mitigation.” Second is the “adaptation” phase when humans learn to live with the new changes made. The key is that this response and these changes must be on a global level and not just individually.
What Solutions Are There For Climate Change?
Entire infrastructures must be overhauled, particularly the energy and waste sectors. A worldwide global warming treaty would go a long way in achieving this, but is it plausible? Non-profit and governmental organizations are working to build up knowledge about and solutions to this alarming issue.
A move to renewable energy sources, such as wind, water, and solar power, and away from fossil fuels, is key. When it comes to fuel for cars and airplanes, biofuel has been proved to reduce particle emissions. Electrical cars are an even better option, but only if the electricity used to recharge them is clean as well.
While a global response is necessary, it is also important that changes be made on smaller, local scales. Cities should not wait for their country to adopt a climate policy but start working on ways to solve their own problems now. Examples are building flood defenses, creating plans for heatwaves, and emphasizing green spaces, or at least water-permeable pavements, over too much asphalt and concrete.
What Can I Do?
Although an international government-level change is primordial for the mitigation and adaptation response, individuals can make a difference. When people around you see and hear about the changes you’re making, they are more likely to adjust their own habits.
Change your daily commute
Try to move away from individual gasoline or diesel-burning cars and choose public transportation, riding a bike, walking, or carpooling. The less you drive, the less you will emit and the more money you will save. Getting rid of your car can reduce your CO2 emissions by 2.5 tons!
Invest in renewable energy
Take advantage of grants and local aid to invest in solar and wind power when you can. The price of these renewable sources of energy is going down, with for example a 73% drop in the cost of utility-scale solar panels since 2010. In some countries, solar energy is now the cheapest source!
Reduce your energy usage
Even with renewable sources, the less energy you use, the better for the world and your wallet. Simple changes such as unplugging electronics when you aren’t using them, washing clothes in cool or warm water rather than hot, and winterizing your home all help.
Change your diet
Eat less animal protein, particularly beef. Cows produce a lot of methane and are fed with grains that could be eaten by humans and take a lot of water to grow.
Shop local and less
Try to reduce the amount of goods you consume as much as possible to reduce waste. And the goods you do purchase ideally should come from nearby so you can reduce their carbon footprint from the producer to you.
Attend a conference to learn more
There are several conferences on climate change and global warming held around the world. A few of the big ones in 2019 include:
- 6th World Congress on Climate Change and Global Warming in Vancouver, Canada, April 24-25, 2019
- 8th World Climate Congress in Bangkok, Thailand, May 10-11, 2019
- 6th World Conference on Climate Change in Berlin, Germany, September 9-11, 2019
- 9th International Conference on Environment and Climate Change in Johannesburg, South Africa, November 18-19, 2019
- Check out https://www.conferenceseries.com/ for more options closer to home.