We’ve all heard warnings about the thinning of the ozone layer, global warming, and climate change. Some of us decided to play their part and try to prevent it. Others decided to continue with their lives and let others worry about it.
The former president, Barack Obama, dedicated much of his mandate to developing environment protection policies and educating citizens and companies on the importance of combating climate change through research and measures to diminish pollution.
The current president, Donald Trump, acts as if climate change is just another source of unnecessary expenses. He suggested the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris Agreement, and he already attempted to diminish the budget for climate change research.
In this context, we can’t help wondering: Who’s crazy? Is climate change a real threat, or just another invention meant to justify expenses and launder money? We didn’t want to guess around and present half-truths, so we did our research. Here’s what we found.
Compelling Climate Change Evidence
Without getting into further details, the following evidence should convince you that the climate is actually changing, and it is time we did something about it. If you don’t trust NASA, perhaps you’ll trust the scientists responsible for the scientific studies and measurements the evidence in the list comes from.
- The sea level increased by 8 inches throughout the past century. The rising rate of the last 2 decades was almost double than the rate of the preceding period.
- The average temperature at the planet’s surface rose by approximately 2.0 degrees Fahrenheit or 1.1 degrees Celsius compared to the end of the 19th century, mostly due to carbon dioxide and other emissions linked to human activity. The most significant rise occurred throughout the past 3 decades, and records show we had 16 of the 17 warmest years since 2001. 2016 broke all records, not just in average annual temperature, but also in average monthly temperatures, for 8 of the 12 months.
- The increase in temperatures affected the oceans as well. The average temperature of the water in the top 700m rose by 0.302 degrees Fahrenheit from 1969 to date.
- The polar ice is melting. The ice sheet in Greenland has decreased by 150 – 250 km3 from 2002 to 2006. In Antarctica, it decreased by approximately 152 km3 from 2002 to 2005.
- The Arctic sea ice is declining, and the speed has increased considerably throughout the last few decades.
- Glaciers (Himalayas, Alps, Rockies, Andes, Africa, and Alaska) worldwide are melting.
- Extreme weather events are more frequent than ever, most of them referring to record high temperatures and intense rainfalls.
- The acidity of the ocean waters at the surface is 30% higher than it was around the Industrial Revolution. The main causes seem to be the increasing carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. The upper layer of the oceans absorbs approximately 2 billion tons more carbon dioxide every year.
- Satellite records show that the spring snow cover has decreased significantly over the last 5 decades in the Northern Hemisphere, and the snow melts earlier.
If you take the time to think about it, you’ve already seen the evidence. All those humid and unbearably hot summer days, storms and tornados, or huge temperature variations from one day to another, they are all signs we discovered the hard way, but refused to acknowledge.
Unfortunately, there is more at stake when the climate changes than just temperatures, water levels or ice mass. Even the smallest changes have a huge impact on our health and lifestyle. Here are just a few examples that should get you thinking.
Climate Change Impact on Our Health and Well Being
Believe it or not, every change in global climate increases health risks. We’re talking about the number of deaths as a result of extremely high temperatures, about changes in infectious disease patterns, and more. Here are just a few of the effects of climate change according to the World Health Organization:
- Weather extremes, from heavy rains and floods to hurricanes and tsunamis, take away human lives and cause huge damage. Around 600 000 people died around the world due to natural disasters in the 1990s, and 95% of these disasters affected developing countries.
- Short-term temperature fluctuations negatively impact health. They cause hyperthermia or hypothermia, and they increase the death rate among heart and respiratory disease sufferers. Records suggest the high temperatures registered in 2003 in Western Europe caused the death of approximately 70 000 people (this was the difference between the number of deaths in 2003 and the average number of deaths in the previous years).
- The increasing heat is raising the aeroallergen levels (pollen, dust, etc.). These increase the number of allergic responses and may trigger asthma, an already common disease in the U.S.
- The rising water levels increase the risk of flooding and may require population displacement, taking into account that about half of the population worldwide lives within 38 miles from shoreline. Floods may cause injuries and death, as well as increase infection risks for diseases transmitted by water and vectors. Population displacement will most likes increase tensions and lead to conflicts.
- In many regions of the world, the changes in rainfall patterns are already affecting the fresh water supply. Water scarcity affects 40% of the population already. The lack of water or its poor quality compromise the inhabitants’ hygiene and health, increasing diarrhea risk. Did you know that diarrhea, trachoma (eye infection that may cause blindness), and other similar diseases take about 2.2 million lives every year?
- The higher temperatures affect not only people, but also insects. Some species, like mosquitoes, thrive in these conditions. In doing so, they help spread climate-sensitive diseases like diarrhea, or malaria.
- The rising temperatures and extreme weather phenomena affect crops as well, diminishing productivity. Malnutrition has become a reason for concern in many regions. It leads to death, especially when associated with diseases like malaria, diarrhea, or respiratory illnesses.
What does this mean? Our health is directly linked to that of our planet. We’ve been making our planet sick, and it’s taking its toll on our own health. Looking at the evidence and worrying about what climate change may do to life on earth is no longer enough. We need to act now! Each of us needs to play their part.
It would be easy to point fingers and attribute responsibilities. We could blame Donald Trump for refusing to fund further research. We could blame NASA for not being able to convince the president of the utility of their research. We could blame corporations for developing so many products and producing them in excess.
Unfortunately, this would lead nowhere. That is why we suggest a different alternative: let’s all set an example. We can each play our part to protect the planet, and show others how to do it s well. After all, it would all be for our own and our children’s future and health. What can we do? Here are a few ideas:
10 Ways to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Prevent Climate Change
1. Re-use and Recycle
You probably have a lot of things you don’t really need around your home. Rather than throwing them out, find ways to reuse them. You can adjust them to serve different purposes, or turn them in for recycling. Anything is better than overloading landfills.
We waste a lot of food and organic materials. We can significantly reduce our carbon footprint by turning waste food into compost, and using it to nourish the plants and the trees in our yards and gardens. We would also save money and avoid the use of chemical fertilizers.
3. Green Transportation
Taking the bus or the subway to work, walking or riding a bike, are all better transportation methods than driving your car. They could help you improve you social life, exercise more, save money you would otherwise spend on gas, and experience a feeling of reward and excitement for trying to make a difference.
4. Reduce Your Use of Artificial Lighting and Install Energy-Efficient Appliances
Keep your windows free of draperies and blinds, and install skylights. The light entering your home will make it look bigger and more welcoming. The energy-efficient appliances will help lower your energy bill and reduce your contribution to climate change.
5. Eat Foods Grown Locally
In doing so, you cut out transportation and related carbon dioxide emissions. You also cut out middlemen, pay lower prices, support local economy, and get healthier products.
6. Drive Smartly and Invest in a Hybrid Car
Steady driving, without unnecessary speeding, braking, and acceleration can help you save gas and money. It will also keep your car functional and its engine purring like a happy cat. Every now and then, balance your tires to improve your car’s gas mileage even more. When you need to replace your car, consider getting a hybrid. It will work miracles for both your pocket and the environment.
7. Support the Cause
Besides reducing your own carbon footprint, you can also support local organizations militating for the environment, by donating, helping them raise money, or participating in the activities and manifestations they organize.
8. Use Water Responsibly
It doesn’t cost you a thing to turn off the water while you soap your body, or to soap all your dishes and then rinse them rather than leave the water running while you use the soap. You can use barrels to collect rainwater for your garden. Besides saving water, they will also make your garden look great. When you need a table or a holder for your beer, just cover them with a lid.
9. Shop Mindfully
Just think of all the stuff you buy without actually needing it. The production and packaging processes, as well as shipping, leave their print on the environment. They consume resources and release carbon dioxide. Stick to the things you really need, and focus on recyclable materials. You’ll save money and help the environment.
10. Plant Trees
There is a saying: in order to call yourself accomplished, you need to plant a tree, build a house, and have a child. Perhaps you won’t build a house, and maybe you’d rather postpone having a baby for a few years, but plant as many trees as you can. They’ll consume some of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and release oxygen instead, they will help prevent landslides, and they will help draw the rain and lower the temperatures.