Be clued up about Global Warming this World Earth Day! April 22nd asks us to boost the general awareness of global warming and its serious impacts. Here’s a breakdown of the causes and effects of Global Warming, and 5 need-to-knows on how to help stop it!
Wouldn’t it be great if the term “global warming” referred to something endearing, such as the increase in tolerance or love for thy neighbour? You know, like the metaphorical warming of our interconnected human energy.
As we know, the term sadly refers to a very literal kind of warming that has been resulting in numerous natural disasters and inconceivable threats to the existence of our planet.
Upcoming World Earth Day, on April 22nd, tries to reinforce our awareness of and efforts to fight the scary phenomenon we’ve created.
What is Global Warming?
The name itself pretty much explains the gist of what global warming is. Our globe, planet Earth, is quite literally warming up as we speak. The climate has been changing in a way that the Earth’s temperatures are rapidly becoming warmer and thereby causing terrifying threats to all of terrestrial existence.
Watch this video by The Daily Conversation to get a good overview on the topic:
What causes Global Warming?
Humans. That’s the quick answer.
The causes of global warming can be traced down to man-made industries that cause an enhanced greenhouse effect. This greenhouse effect “is a process that occurs when gases in Earth’s atmosphere trap the Sun’s heat” and “makes Earth much warmer than it would be without an atmosphere,” as Nasa Kids explains.
This effect in itself is a good thing, as the warmth makes Earth a cosy place to live. The issue is that we are escalating the greenhouse effect by releasing too many of these gases into the atmosphere (specifically through our agricultural activities, like burning fossil fuels and coal). In other words, the more gases and air pollutants (such as carbon dioxide) we put out there that get trapped, the more we are heating up the globe.
What are the effects of Global Warming?
Two frank examples of direct and severe consequences of a hotter planet are:
Antarctica is quite literally melting away, which in turn is making sea levels rise. As a result, we get more floodings and erosions, specifically along coastlines, and Arctic animals are losing their home and hunting ground. Polar bears are but one species that may become extinct if things continue at this rate.
We’re literally eradicating one of the cutest fluff balls ever. That’s right, we (not them). That includes you. Let that sink in for a second.
Does Day Zero ring any bells? A warmer planet has meant less rain and more draught. So much so that even developed cities like Cape Town may face a time where drinking water is a luxury.
As they say, the next wars won’t be about oil, but water. Are we really going to allow for it to get that far?
What are 5 simple things you can do to help reverse it?
1) Reduce your red meat consumption
No, this ain’t a pro-vegan stint. Livestock production is a huge player against Earth.
According to an article by research scientist Mario Herrero,
“Farming livestock – cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, and chickens – contributes around 6 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide) to the atmosphere each year. While estimates vary, this could represent up to 18% of global emissions.”
It’s estimated that in Brazil’s Amazon region, about 80% of deforestation is caused by cattle ranching. The meat industry wants to make more money, so what do they do? Chop down forests to ranch more cattle and sell more meat (the same goes for soy and palm oil production, by the way). Billions of tons of pollutants soar into our atmosphere just from producing livestock feed.
By reducing or eliminating your consumption of meat products you are helping bring down one of the biggest contributors of greenhouse gases. Yes, guys. Eat a little fewer boerewors rolls and ribs to do the whole world a favor. A few braais less each month won’t kill you.
2) Ditch the car
When possible, take a bike, walk, or use public transport. It’s not always necessary to drive. We’ve just got used to the convenience. Every time you ditch the car, you are consuming less fuel and putting fewer pollutants out there. The environment thanks you for it!
3) Save Water & Energy
The Cape Town water crisis sure has taught us one thing: we can get by just fine on a lot less. The truth is there simply isn’t an abundance of water and energy out there, so we need to behave accordingly. Use these resources wisely, and try to invest in renewable energy and devices that don’t consume big amounts. For example, use LED light bulbs, and continue with the bucket in your shower. There are so many water saving hacks. Just a Google search away or see if Suzelle has any ideas.
4) Be less consumerist
Our world revolves around consumerism. It’s always about having more and more. More clothes, more electronic devices, more beauty products. Whichever purchase you’re making without necessity is contributing to some industry that’s probably polluting our planet. Reuse the things you have in practical and creative ways (especially plastic products).
On that note, just avoid plastic all together whenever you can. Seriously. Kudos to the EU Parliament that just announced the ban of single-use plastic items such as straws and cotton buds by 2021.
5) Spread the Word like Wildfire
This is perhaps the most important and easiest step you can take toward helping reverse the damages of global warming. It’s the point almost every global warming awareness article stresses.
Tell people about what is going on and how some little decisions can have a huge impact on saving the planet. If we want the big guys (governments) to implement big changes, it has to start with our plea and action. Be the example. Don’t get trapped in the mindset of “What does it matter if I reduce my meat consumption but everyone else continues as always?” Change it too “I’m playing my part. Let me see who else I can get to jump on the (low-energy consuming) bandwagon.”