Dr Adam Scaife, head of long range forecasting at the Met Office, said: “The 3 leading global temperature datasets show that 2010 is clearly warmer than 2009. They also show that 2010 is the warmest or second warmest year on record as suggested in the Met Office’s annual forecast of global temperature issued in December 2009.” (http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/news/releases/archive/2011/2010-global-temperature)
If you are a green enthusiast and agree with the data from Met office, you are probably already taken steps to reduce your carbon footprint and preserve the planet for your children and grandchildren, convinced that we are part of the cause for the extreme climatic conditions we have seen in the last decade. Considering that more than 26% of total energy in the EU is consumed by private households it is easy to see that each of us must take action and become more careful on how we consume energy and how much CO2 we put in the atmosphere, in order to not melt in the future.
On the other hand you could be skeptical about global warming and find that scientific data is not conclusive. According to Nate Silver author of “The Signal and the Noise” : “statistical forecasting methods suggest that if you measure temperature trend one decade at a time in any given decade there is a warming trend 75% of the time since 1900 but a cooling trend the other 25% of the time”. On the other hand a steady increase in global temperature of about 1dg C has occurred over the last century. Also we can’t ignore the increase in extreme heat waves that we see and feel everywhere in the last years.
Although a large number of scientists believe that carbon dioxide is not the only major cause of global warming, in 2010, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties 16 (COP 16) approved a non-legally binding commitment to cap global average temperature rises to 2°C. A 2°C rise is considered consistent with capping atmospheric CO2 equivalent (CO2-e) concentration levels to 450 parts per million (ppm) by 2050 (IPCC 2007). On current projections, by 2050 CO2 emissions must reduce significantly below not only ‘business as usual’ levels, but also current levels in order to reach the cap of 450ppm. This particularly applies to emissions of CO2 resulting from the use of fossil fuels – coal, oil and natural gas.http://www.globalccsinstitute.com/
Scientist have agreed that climate change is due to man made action and that we have already crossed many of the sustainability boundaries that keep our planet in balance. Some of these boundaries are shown in the infographic bellow by Dr. Jeffrey Sachs from a longer course, “The Age of Sustainable Development.” An introduction to this course can be found on Courserra. https://www.coursera.org/learn/sustainabledevelopment1
The decision about what to believe is only yours, but the evidence point in only one direction, and we have to start taking responsability for our actions and start working togheter on the solution.
Regardless of what you choose to believe it will not hurt you or anyone else if you reduce your carbon foot print.
If you need some easy to implement ideas on how to do that you can find a small list below.
Use your car less.
Our ancestors used to go everywhere by foot, now we do not even walk for 30 min. each day. Not only driving less will help the environment it will also help your health, posture, looks, self-esteem and wallet.
Don’t waste energy on unnecessary lights or idle appliances.
You can install sensors that automatically close the light when you are not in a room or have a fancy smart-home system installed, if you are forgetful about this kind of things. Or just use a post-it note above your light switch. In the long term you would be helping the environment and saving also money on electricity bills.
Eat more local and BIO food.
This will reduce the pollution related to producing the plants especially the release of nitrogen, used as fertilizer, in land and water, the use of pesticides, and the pollution related to transporting food on long distances.
Not only you will reduce pollution but you will also improve your health since most of nutritionist agree that having a diversified diet, based on seasonal foods, can bring major improvements to your overall well-being. Except from making you beautiful eating only how much you need will also save you money and reduce the waste you produce, I think it is safe to say that this can also make you happier.
Michael Pollan tracked how much oil we use to produce a Hamburger. If this doesn’t change your mind about how much our eating habits affect us I do not know what will.
Use less water.
70% of our water is used for irrigations. If you have a lawn that requires allot of water for maintenance in the summer you should consider replacing it with small bushes that are fit for arid conditions. This will save water, be just as pretty and will also save you money. If you have a garden where you grow vegetables you could implement a drip irrigation system that uses significantly less water.
If you do not have a garden you can reduce water and energy use by taking cold or colder showers. In my personal experience this has proved great for burning fat, increasing testosterone and adapting better to extreme temperature changes. Although we are not always fully aware of it our body has to deal with these changes every day- for example going from 20 degrees in a car or office to 40 degrees outside in the summer.
Another easy way to save some time, energy and water is by using a dish washer.
Plant more trees.
They do not produce WIFI but they produce Oxygen, fruits and a cool place for a swing if you have kids. Also when they are close to buildings they can reduce the energy loads by providing shadow in the summer, and protection against wind in the winter, meaning you will need less energy to heat your home.
As you can see sustainability is not hard, or expensive as many would want us to believe. It just needs a little will power applied in the right direction every day. And since will power is hard to find this days with so many choices around us take consume it, small reminders like post-its above the light switch, an inspirational quote or a picture with your baby, to remind you why this is important, or sharing this article can be good all good motivators for taking action now.
These are just few ideas so I would love to get allot more thoughts on how we can achieve sustainability from you. Share with us your ideas and also tell us what keeps you motivated to be sustainable?