Amrit Banstola: The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that ―warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from scientific observations of increases in global average temperature, melting of snow and ice, and rising of global average sea level. And from various evidences from recent studies, the climate change is happening, and it is real. It is also known that the effects of current carbon emissions will continue to have serious negative effects on our health and environment for years to come.
Now, the question may arise, is it possible to slow or stop the climate change process? In my opinion, the answer is yes; changes in our everyday lives could also help slow the changes in the climate.
The carbon emissions are the major contributing factor in climate change. The greenhouse gases (GHG) such as carbon dioxide are produced in our daily activities. The firewood used for cooking, the fuel used for transportation, the household and commercial waste we produce are some of the common sources of carbon emissions. As we move to address climate change, various policies and strategies to reduce green house gas emissions should be our foremost priority.
Let’s take example from Nepal; here the domestic carbon emission can be reduced to the greater extent by discouraging the use of firewood and primitive cooking stoves that emit large amounts of smoke. In this, the government and agencies could help the population to replace these with improved cooking stoves that emit less smoke and helps in the wellbeing of health and our environment.
Another major effort to reduce greenhouse gases could be by focussing on energy efficiency. Like turning off your TV, VCR, computer, air conditioning and other electronic devices should be encouraged to save the thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide produced by each household each year. In addition, campaigns to replace traditional incandescent bulbs with Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL) should be encouraged, as replacing one bulb saves 150 pounds of carbon dioxide each year (earth911.com). Such campaigns should also encourage consumers to consider Energy Star appliances when buying new appliances.
The campaigns to encourage drivers to reduce their gas consumption can reduce additional and unnecessary driving. The message to them is that, for each mile we do not drive, one pound of carbon dioxide is not produced. (earth911.com). Carpooling or car sharing, and encouraging use of the smallest, most fuel-efficient vehicle is a message for the public. Therefore, public transportation is another option that should be encouraged.
Another action to address climate change would be to follow the 3R rule– Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Paper, plastic, metal and glass can be reused as well as recycled. Recycling half of a household’s waste can save up to 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide each year: two pounds of carbon emission is saved for every 20 glass bottles that are recycled (earth911.com). Similarly, recycling paper saves trees and lets them continue to reduce climate change naturally as they grow and remove carbon from the atmosphere.
In countries with huge number of vehicles that use fossil fuels can, as soon as possible, be exchanged for electric vehicles. The Government of Nepal made a major step forward when it exchanged all its gasoline three wheelers in Kathmandu, the capital city, with electric three wheelers in 1995. Reforestation also help a lot in combating climate change as a single tree can absorb one ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime (earth911.com).
All these actions can be done within communities by individuals and groups. However, not all people yet have this information. Therefore, most importantly, we need to promote energy efficiency and other methods in communities to help individuals and groups reduce energy use and reduce the green house gases that cause climate change. Together we can!
About Author: Amrit Banstola has written this article for Climate Himalaya ‘s Youth Speak Column. Amrit is founder cum editor-in-chief of Public Health Perspective (PHP) Online Newsletter–the first online public health newsletter of Nepal
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of Climate Himalaya team.
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