We all understand that the earth is warming up at an unprecedented rate. We understand that this rapid global warming is a direct consequence of industry. We’re also aware that global warming can be slowed, halted, or reversed through a reduction in atmospheric greenhouse gases.
However, do we all understand that every one of us can make a difference?
Vast quantities of greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O) – are released into the atmosphere every day by the agricultural, construction, manufacturing, transportation, and energy industries.
Industry may be pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, but industry is totally reliant on demand. Reduced demand for a product means reduced production. Therefore, while we’re consuming the products of polluting processes, we’re passively contributing to the pollution.
So how can we, as individuals, possibly have any impact on climate?
Whether we’re driving vehicles, heating (or cooling) homes and offices, cooking (or chilling) food and beverages, or running domestic or commercial machines, we’re using energy that’s mainly produced from fossil fuel.
The burning of fossil fuel releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The gas retains heat, and the atmosphere gets warmer. As icecaps melt, sea levels rise. And with a reduction in reflective white ice and an increase in dark, light-absorbent liquid water, the rate of warming is accelerated.
The concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide would be even higher if it wasn’t for the fact that around 25% of anthropogenic carbon dioxide is currently being dissolved into seawater. A reaction between the carbon dioxide and the water produces carbonic acid, which lowers the water’s PH. Acidification of seawater can have a detrimental effect on certain marine organisms.
Each of us can make a difference by:
Each year, approximately 15 billion kilograms (33 billion pounds) of plastic enters the marine environment. Many types of plastic take hundreds of years to break down by photodegradation. This means that most of the plastic that’s ever been produced is still in existence, and the level of oceanic pollution is growing at an alarming rate.
The less demand there is for plastic items, the less plastic will be manufactured.
One thing we can do is to reuse and recycle the plastic that’s already in existence. For example, we can reuse plastic bags and bottles, and we can buy second-hand clothes; and where the plastic is of no further use to us, we can dispose of it in recycling bins. However, plastic’s long polymer chains, which give the material strength and flexibility, are partly broken down in the recycling process, which means that it must be combined with virgin material to be of any good.
A more effective strategy is to choose alternatives to plastic. For example, we can buy:
For businesses, one of the most effective ways to eliminate the demand for single-use plastic is to install a smart, low-energy, mains-fed water dispenser. You can even enjoy fresh, zero-calorie fruity flavours with Aqua Libra Co’s unique Flavour tap.
About 38% of Earth’s land surface is used for agriculture, and around 66% of this farmed land is grazing pasture for livestock. The remaining farmland is cropland – approximately 33% of which is used to grow feed for livestock.
More than two thirds of the world’s agricultural land is used for animal farming, and much of this space was at one time forested.
Deforestation means loss of habitat for wildlife, potential extinction for some species, and a rise in the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide due to the loss of photosynthesising plant life.
There are around 1.5 billion domesticated ruminants (mainly sheep and cattle) in the world today, all emitting methane as a by-product of enteric fermentation. Methane is a greenhouse gas with a global warming potential (GWP) of 28 to 36, which means that a methane molecule can hold 28 to 36 times as much energy as a carbon dioxide molecule. Methane, however, doesn’t have the longevity of carbon dioxide.
Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the concentration of atmospheric methane has increased by about 150%, and it’s estimated that at least 40% of anthropogenic methane is produced by agriculture.
Reduced demand for animal-based products will lead to a reduction in animal agriculture.
Each of us can:
Live a better life for a better world.