The effects of climate change can now be observed in every part of the globe. Heatwaves are worse than ever, hurricanes become more intense, sea levels are rising, and it gets worse over time.
What can good humans do about climate change? Here’s the thing, every human being contributes to climate change. So we have the power to practice climate change solutions to make a more significant impact on our environment.
What is Climate Change?
Climate change is defined as changes in regional or global climate patterns. Climate change is due to increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere because of fossil fuels, oil, and coal.
Fossil-fuel burning increases the heat trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere. Climate change and its negative impact on temperature lead to global warming. Some regions of the Earth warm faster than the other parts, depending on the fossil-burning activities of the place.
Extreme Temperatures, Weather and Climate
As recorded, the global air temperature near the Earth’s surface has gone up to 2 degrees. Over the past 150 years, scientists discovered that the Earth’s temperature is quickly changing as expected. The past five years have the warmest temperatures recorded in centuries. The Earth is on its extreme temperatures, weather, and climate. Is this alarming? Very!
The whole world could now feel the extreme weather and climate all year round. Rainstorms are now more extreme, and the flash floods even get more intense. Heatwaves and droughts are now intolerable that it’s affecting everyone, even animals and plants die.
Do we want more of this? How do we stop this? Climate change solutions come from the initiative of the human race. No other creature on Earth can eliminate or minimize climate change, but us, good humans. The first step is to raise awareness of what causes climate change and fossil-burning human activities.
Causes of Climate Change
The causes of climate change are classified into two categories: natural and human-made. The mechanism is simple to understand. The heat on Earth (caused by the sun’s reflection and gas emission) cannot be released into space because of the atmospheric gases blocking their path.
Ideally, when heat and energy are released into space, the planet cools. If otherwise, our world gets hotter by the minute. It’s like a bathroom with a broken exhaust fan; the heat and the smell cannot come out. The broken exhaust fan is the atmosphere filled with greenhouse gases.
Now that you understand the bathroom analogy, you are a step closer to help in raising awareness of climate change. In order for you to educate others, you should have a complete comprehension of the topic. Here are examples of the natural and human-made causes of climate change.
Natural Causes: Examples of the natural forces that contribute to climate change are;
- Volcanic Eruptions: The ash and dust from a volcanic eruption collect in the atmosphere and block the sunlight.
- Sun’s Intensity: The sun affects everything on Earth. This includes changes in ocean currents, UV, and radiation that contributes to climate change.
- Changes in Greenhouse Gases: The changes in the naturally occurring gases in the atmosphere may contribute to climate change. Few of these gases include carbon dioxide, nitrous oxides, and methane.
- Ocean Currents: The movement and current of the ocean change all the time, and it can significantly impact climate change. The oceans current may change because of the water’s change in movement, wind, tides, sun, and the Earth’s rotation.
- Earth’s Orbital Changes: Our planet undergoes one full orbit around the sun each year. The changes in the Earth’s tilt can also contribute to climate change. The more tilt the Earth experiences, this means colder winters and warmer summers. The less tilt of the Earth means milder winters and cooler summers.
We cannot do much about these natural causes because it’s how our planet was programmed. These are inevitable, but human-made reasons are a whole different story.
Man-made Causes: Human activities that contribute to increasing the greenhouse gases significantly affect climate change. These activities include;
- Burning fossil fuels
- Cutting down trees and rainforests
- Farming livestock (when using nitrogen-containing fertilizers)
- Gas-powered machines or engines
- Gas-powered electricity
- Factories and Infrastructure building
- Transportation (airplane, cars, boats)
- Lesser trees and plants (nothing will absorb carbon dioxide)
As you can see, the human-made causes of climate change are somewhat necessary for our everyday lives. We need electricity every day, we need to drive our cars, and we need livestock to eat.
These necessities now have an alternative and have environmentally-friendly ways to meet our needs. A great example is instead of using your car, and you can use your bike or, better yet, walk.
Does Climate Change Affect Human Health?
Yes, climate change can affect human health. Research from Stanford University stated that climate change affecting our environment also contributes to the sickness of humans. Doctors and other healthcare workers see in their practice every day the patients who suffer from an illness made worse by climate change.
For example, wildfire is a product of climate change. Individuals who have existing respiratory problems like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) who inhale the wildfire byproducts may worsen the disease.
Other than that, air pollution can also be triggering factors of stroke, heart attack, lung cancer, and acute respiratory infections in children. One person’s air waste is another person’s cause of illness or, worse, death.
Another example is floods that are a product of climate change too. When a person with an open wound walks through flooded waters that contain urine of rodents or other animals, this may lead to leptospirosis. That is how diverse the effects of climate change are. It affects the environment, human health, the animals, and even our daily lives.
What is Global Warming?
Global warming is the long-term effect of climate change, where the “globe is warm”. Climate change and global warming are often used interchangeably. Global warming is defined as the gradual increase in Earth’s overall temperature.
Like climate change, global warming is also caused by greenhouse gases released in the atmosphere. With global warming, the globe becomes warm. On the other hand, in climate change, our climate changes.
Climate Change Solutions
In fighting climate change, raising awareness is the first and most influential act to make an impact. News and television, for instance, are a great platform to raise awareness. Unfortunately, mainstream media would instead report on A-list celebrities’ lives rather than talking about climate change solutions.
Who would blame them? They only report what people want to hear. It’s sad to know that some people are more interested in petty things rather than saving their planet. Not to worry because the voice and actions of good humans are more assertive in unity.
Who Should Help in Fighting Climate Change?
EVERYONE should help in climate change. There’s not much we can do about the natural causes, and it will always be there to contribute to climate change.
Fighting climate change starts with an individual. We start within ourselves and promote climate change solutions. As we adjust to our lifestyle, we start with our family, the community, our workplace.
As your network expands, the more significant the impact it can make on climate change. The stronger the voice, the farther the reach. The goal is to reach organizations and big companies in joining the campaign. Most importantly, reach lawmakers in formulating better laws, and the authority for strict compliance of existing laws.
Climate change is a collective problem of the whole globe, we are all accountable, so we all should take action. The strategy is focusing on individual actions, one step at a time.
Here are some individual actions you can try one day at a time. Let’s be honest that it’s not going to be an easy path, but it’s definitely going to be worth it.
- Reuse, Reduce and Recycle
Remember during your grade school days when your teacher reiterates reusing, reducing, and recycling. You can also recall project-making out of recycled materials or segregated garbage disposal. Thankfully these 3R’s are taught to young individuals.
The goal is to use less but more efficiently. Recycle, barter, avoid single-use products, upcycle, avoid plastic use. You all heard that before, and yes, they are all helpful climate change solutions.
Start young, and continue until you get older. Be a positive influence on your kids or the younger generation.
- Carbon Offsetting
Each person contributes to climate change, and the least you can do is offset your carbon profile. You can purchase carbon offsets. The fund goes to renewable energy projects, wind farms, energy-efficient vehicles, or install building insulations.
Shrinking your carbon profile is not only an individual action for climate change, but for big companies, organizations, and governments as well. There are many private companies offering carbon offsetting, so do your research and choose the one with the best advocacy.
- Transportation Alternatives
Here’s the thing: air transport is one of the major contributors to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. If you can ride the train instead of the plane, please do so. This is a hot topic, especially for the wealthy people who charter private planes instead of flying commercial flights.
Automobiles running on fuel also contributes to climate change. So what are the solutions? Ride a bike, carpool, ride public transport, use electric-powered vehicles, or walk. If you drive less, this leads to saving money on fuel, plus less pollution in the air.
- Drive Electric Vehicles
Choosing a fuel-efficient vehicle like hybrid cars or electric-powered bikes emit less carbon dioxide. As you drive a diesel or petrol-powered vehicle, think of the carbon dioxide you are releasing into the atmosphere. Then think of the cost of fuel these days.
Wouldn’t it be a great idea to drive a vehicle that is friendlier to the environment and your pocket as well? Owners of hybrid cars also enjoy tax benefits and avoid congestion charges.
- Pull the Plugs When Not in Use
Electric appliances that are turned off, but if they remained plugged, still draw energy and leave carbon footprints. As much as possible, unplug all appliances if they’re not in use. Don’t make it a habit to leave your mobile phone chargers on the socket, unplug the microwave, or desktop computers.
Make it a habit that before going to sleep, unplug all devices. Do not leave a fully charged device plugged because it can draw energy. Electronics in “standby” mode adds to the electricity bill because it still keeps drawing power.
- Use LED Light Bulbs
Using LED light bulbs helps in reducing carbon dioxide emissions. LED light bulbs use 80% less energy compared to conventional fluorescent light bulbs. 95% of the LED’s energy is converted into light, and only 5% is wasted to heat.
Other than LED light bulbs being environmentally-friendly, and wastes lesser energy, thus helps in saving electric bills.
- Do Not Waste Food
Did you know that 10% of the U.S. energy emissions go to processing, growing, packaging, and shipping foods alone? But it’s sad to hear that 40% of these foods go to waste only.
If you’re not wasting food, you’re helping in cutting down energy consumption. In addition, eating less meat can make a big impact too. Producing livestock and raising farm animals are intensive to produce, and it emits a lot of energy. This is one of the reasons why other people support a vegetarian diet.
- Do Not Waste Water
We always see signages not to waste water. This is not just to save on water bills, but to help reduce carbon pollution too. Conserve water by taking shorter showers, turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth, or minimize soaking in the tub.
In case you’re not aware, it takes a lot of energy to treat, pump, and heat water so households can use them safely. Even the distillation process alone emits many greenhouse gases. That is why wasting water is as good as contributing to climate change.
- Use Energy-Efficient Appliances
Other than LED light bulbs, it is recommended to use energy-efficient appliances. It is recommended to use products with the ENERGY STAR. This includes refrigerators, air conditioners, or washing machines.
Not only do these machines produce less energy, but they can also help you save on your electric bills ever since these energy-efficient appliances were implemented, 2.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
- Minimize using your HVAC
Heating, ventilation, and air-conditioner are among the appliances that use the most energy in homes. To help with reducing climate change, minimize the use of your home’s HVAC.
There are other ways to cool down a room, like opening the window or using the electric fan instead. Ensure that you’re home is well insulated to protect you in the winter. Provide more shade for your house area by planting big trees to absorb the sunlight.
- Use Renewable Energy
The use of renewable energy has been found as one of the greatest contributors to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Examples of renewable energy are biomass, hydropower, the geothermal, wind, and solar energy.
Now, solar-powered homes are a hit. It can cost you money on the initial purchase, but it’s going to be worth it in the long run because of the savings on your electric bills. Start with a simple solar-powered light for outdoor use. One or two solar light bulbs can get you a long way.
- Family Planning
You may ask why: what is the relevance of family planning to climate change solutions? The answer is simple: the more population growth, the more resources are extracted from the planet. This means more waste, more carbon dioxide emissions, and more food consumed.
Some countries have a two-child policy law for economic reasons. But family planning can help with fighting climate change as well. Just imagine, it takes 54 acres of land to sustain one human being (this includes food, clothing, and other human needs). Also, one person emits two tons of carbon dioxide per year.
A child is a family’s blessing; we all know that. But if you can, practice family planning. There are countries that mandate a two-child policy as a law. For some, there are tax breaks or additional benefits. This is an individual or a family’s responsibility, but to be educated about family planning is what the government should aim for.
Having multiple children and not being aware of family planning is due to the lack of education. That is why climate change solutions are collaborative.
- Raise Awareness
Nothing is more powerful than many voices coming together to raise awareness for climate change. This is the single biggest way to help make a positive impact on climate change.
You can use social media platforms to voice out your concerns and send a message to the world. Speak up and, of course, practice what you preach.
Private corporations are big contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Factories produce fossil fuels, 20-story offices in 24/7 air-conditioners, and transportation of goods via air and sea. It’s part of the business operations, and households need their products and services. But there are ways to convert their operations to the most environmentally-friendly way.
There are existing climate policies that affect the operations of these private corporations. But do private corporations only help with climate change to abide by the law? Or should they help in fighting climate change with their own initiative? Either way, private corporations should do their part, and here are some tips these companies can implement.
- Carbon Offset
Some countries are now strictly implementing policies on carbon offsetting for private corporations. At the same time, some companies made it their promise to go zero-waste to help with climate change.
The carbon offsetting mechanism was designed to be a cost-effective and efficient process of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon offsetting is like cleaning after your mess; with the carbon produced by the private corporations’ operations, they do a ‘clean-up’ to at least reduce the carbon in the atmosphere.
That is why you see companies conducting tree-planting activities among their employees. It’s not just part of their community service, but it’s a great idea for carbon offsetting too. Did you know that it takes 1,000 trees to offset the carbon emission of the U.S. alone? One tree can absorb 31 pounds of carbon dioxide each year.
Other than tree-planting, private corporations can participate in carbon offsetting by purchasing or supporting a cause in their local community. Large companies like Delta and Amazon now have net-zero emission goals and aim to be carbon-neutral.
The multi-billion-dollar companies purchasing carbon offset can help finance renewable energy sources in their community. If you see solar power plants and windmills in your area, this might be a product of the carbon offsetting of private corporations, individuals, and the local government.
One of the biggest contributors to climate change are the airline companies. Aviation industries in the leadership of Carbon Offsetting Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) have now placed a global initiative to address climate change. Aside from setting a limit on carbon dioxide emissions, another goal is to increase efficiency.
The global goal of aviation industries is to mitigate 2.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide by the year 2035. Is this forecasted goal possible? When all airlines in the world strictly comply, it is possible.
- Future Fuels
Private corporations, especially using large machines in manufacturing can consider replacing fossil fuels. The 21st century has many challenges at the same time, innovations. There are now ‘future fuels’ that exist as a more environmental-friendly option from fossil fuels.
The ‘future fuel’ popular in the market now are called biofuels. It is derived from ethanol and made from crops converted to hydrogen and is electrolyzed out of water. But one major drawback is the supply is limited because it’s basically new.
That’s why biodiesel hybrid electric cars are one of the best solutions for transportation (as of now). These hybrid cars are beneficial to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- Stop Cutting Down Trees
Timber companies and are into logging should reconsider their activities in the forests. There are 33 million acres of forest trees cut down every year. The timber harvesting in the tropics contributes to an estimated 1.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This comprises 20% of human-made greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere.
Along with saving the trees, forest management and paper recycling should be practiced too. Private corporations must help promote balancing out the wood taken down in the forests and replace new trees.
If you can, buy used wood furniture or refurbish your old ones, do so. This not just for private businesses, but for households too. If there is no need to buy new furniture, don’t. Stop hurting the Earth’s lungs, and think of the long-term wellness of the Earth’s atmosphere.
- Infrastructure Upgrade
In the U.S. alone, the buildings contribute to one-third of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. That is why big companies invest or upgrade with thick building insulations, energy-efficient appliances, and temperature regulation.
Private corporations should upgrade their infrastructure and transmission lines. If there is a way to convert your company into using renewable energy gradually, this is a big help.
As we speak out and raise awareness about climate change solutions, the aim is to reach out to the government in lawmaking and strict implementation. What we individually contribute to reducing greenhouse gases makes a big impact. But when the government takes measures with this matter, the whole state or country will oblige too.
Politicians are ordinary people like us who lack awareness of a cause; that’s why we lack action. Push for proper waste management, sustainable transportation, use of bicycles, or renewable energy. You just need one ear to listen and take action to help to fight climate change.
- Political Action
There are two political actions that can help in climate change: formulate laws and strictly implement them. These are just two, but both these solutions will come a long way and will have a greater impact.
You may not influence other states or other countries with climate change solutions. But starting within your place and standing up as a role model for other cities to follow your lead can make a statement. Political actions are a domino effect. When other local governments in our countries see that what you do is effective, they are most likely to follow your lead.
One good example is renewable energy through solar and windmill sources. It takes one place to start the trend, and other places will follow them too. That is the positive domino effect you can do to take political action.
The laws and regulations for climate change can include added tax to air pollution, abolishing fossil fuel use, or switching to renewable energy. The government can regulate vehicle standards, fund power plants, and so much more.
In addition, what the government does is covered by mainstream media. This means the political actions can be seen on television and reach many people. That’s how strong the influence of political actions are.
There are many ways to reach the attention of our government. Send them a letter addressed to their office, attend their press conference, and communicate with them directly, through social media, or media campaigns.
There are many facts to point out in our politicians to take action in climate change. You can start with the disasters happening in the area. There’s flash floods, drought, forest fires that are caused by climate change. These natural disasters that can potentially damage lives and properties are the breaking deal to convince them to take action.
Conventional wisdom states that trees and cows cannot co-exist. But the practice of silvopasture challenged these years of practice to fight climate change. As you all know, raising livestock contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.
The practice of silvopasture can help in the compensation of carbon dioxide emissions in the livestock industry. Silvopasture involves the integration of climate-cooling trees combined with pasture land. This involves sheep, cattle, deer, ducks, chickens, and cows. Studies show that silvopasture results in lower methane gas emissions.
- Forest Restoration
For the past decades, forests have suffered extensive fragmentation, clearing, degradation, and depletion of its resources, most especially trees. That is why the government should act on forest restoration to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, especially carbon dioxide discharges in the atmosphere.
When parts of a forest are taken down due to human settlement or agricultural expansion, there will be carbon dioxide emissions caused by these human activities. There are ongoing intentional and passive restorations of forests in some parts of the world as part of responsible governance. As forests are restored, ecosystems come back to life. The vegetation, trees, soil, and leaf litter help absorb carbon dioxide, reducing climate change one step at a time.
There is a global goal called the Bonn challenge to restore 350 million hectares of deforested and degraded forest lands by the year 2030. This was launched by the IUCN and the Government of Germany in 2011.
The initial challenge of 150 million hectares of forest restoration for 2020 was reached. With the initial goal reached, 12-33 gigatons of carbon dioxide has been removed from the atmosphere. Now the whole world is to look out on which governments will participate. As of the moment, there are 64 countries involved, with 74 pledges made.
As of the meantime, there are 4.9 billion acres of forests waiting to be restored worldwide. But governments around the world have the same question: what is the formula for forest restoration? The answer is complicated as it is a collaborative task between the government, local communities, and private corporations.
First, the cause of forest degradation must be addressed. What are its causes? Private corporations or individuals are cutting down trees for personal gains. Once the root of the damage is addressed, the next step is to proceed with the restoration.
The restoration process involves the planting of trees and restoration of the ecosystem. In addition to this, there must be strict implementation and compliance coming from the local community, the government, and private corporations. Every sector must agree on the goal to restore the forests and be guardians of the progress. This is a collaborative process that can’t be achieved without the participation of all sectors.
As third-world countries with constrained budgets to come up with the investment required for forest restoration, the initiative must come from the government. Private corporations and organizations can come together for fund-raising events too. Come to think of it, and this investment is not just for the benefit of limited persons; the restoration is for the benefit of all.
The entire human race will benefit from forest restoration, so the whole human race should also be the ones responsible for initiating the change. Forest restoration needs to be a global priority when it comes to government funding. That is what our government needs to hear. With joint efforts, we need to analyze the best practice for significant forest restoration.
Fighting Climate Change One Step at a Time
All these climate change solutions are intended for the best consequences. But the bottom line in fighting climate change one step at a time is capturing carbon dioxide before it can be released into the atmosphere.
The combined efforts of individual practices in our everyday lives, private corporations pushing for zero-waste operations, and responsible governance are the single-best solutions in fighting climate change.
We have one planet to live in, and human beings have the intellect and capability to take care of our home. Be a good human, and start in yourself. Speak up, raise awareness, educate others, think big, and act big.