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A description of what we can do in fighting global problems

Here's how you can actually help stop climate change It takes more than turning off the lights, but it's all doable. By Kendra Pierre-Louis posted Jul 12th, 2017 at 8: Pexels Soaring temperaturesmelting ice caps, diseases on the rise. Of course, this raises the question of what it means to act quickly against climate change—especially on a personal level. At the end of the day, it all comes down to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We emit greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide when we burn fossil fuels like coal—or when the cattle that get turned into burgers fart.

The increased heat can become catastrophic by melting the polar ice capsraising sea levelsand creating weather patterns that are less predictable, more volatile, and more dangerous. But by lowering our emissions now, we can avoid the worst effects.

  • So the transition to the low-carbon economy will mean better economic growth, higher living standards and a reduction in poverty;
  • A recent World Bank report outlined how four degrees would lead to enormous humanitarian and economic costs.

Wynes and Nicholas came to this conclusion by poring over existing literature that included lifecycle analyses, or calculations of how many emissions a given action releases over the course of its life. In the case of products, the lifecycle typically covers emissions that stem from an object's creation, use, and disposal. If you eat a hamburgerfor example, you add the emissions associated with raising cattle and growing other ingredients, the emissions that result from the production, transportation, and storage of patties, buns and such, and the emissions created by rotting food and packaging waste to your personal carbon footprint.

Here's how you can actually help stop climate change

It adds up fast. They also looked at interventions commonly recommended in government reports and Canadian textbooks. Wynes was a high school science teacher before he decided to pursue his PhD, and knows firsthand that many students are eager to find out what they can do about climate change.

  • That might sound like a lot;
  • It is critically important that governments and businesses listen and recognize what is at stake;
  • But we have lots of the solutions to limit and manage these risks;
  • That might sound like a lot;
  • These include destabilisation of the major ice sheets in Greenland and West Antarctica, committing us to a sea-level rise of six meters or more, the thaw of permafrost, releasing huge volumes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere from the tundra in polar regions, and the gradual disappearance of sea ice, allowing more heat to be absorbed by the ocean.

That might sound like a lot. But Americans emit a whopping 16. This number isn't as bleak as it was in the 1970s, when emissions hovered around 22. That goal, which is designed to prevent the most catastrophic impacts of climate change, would have us lower our annual emissions to around 2.

  1. International climate negotiations Photo. As individuals, we can help by taking action to reduce our personal carbon emissions.
  2. These tipping points are played down in scientific assessments of climate change because there are many uncertainties. Arctic sea ice is reducing in area and thickness at an alarming rate.
  3. Wildflowers bloom on a hill overlooking a fjord filled with icebergs near the south Greenland town of Narsaq July 27, 2009.
  4. We emit greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide when we burn fossil fuels like coal—or when the cattle that get turned into burgers fart. Some places would become significantly warmer, with potentially catastrophic effects, and we would face risks of major health and food security impacts contributing to political, social and economic instabilities.

Wynes found that swapping out your lightbulbs would reduce CO2 emissions by less than. Living car free, however? That reduces your CO2 emissions by more than 3 tons. For example, you might assume that if you can't go car-free, driving an electric car is the next best thing. After all, vehicles that run on fossil fuel emit carbon every time you drive them.

Fight against global warming needs stronger political leadership

But if you live somewhere where the electricity itself comes from a climactically dirty power source—like coal—it might actually be better for you to drive a hybrid. Wynes and Nichols caution of the risks of substitution and rebound effects, where by reducing carbon emissions in one area we can end up increasing emissions in another.

But if you use the money you saved to go on a vacation that requires a transatlantic plane trip, you haven't done the planet any good. At the same time, they recognize that not all emission interventions are going to be possible for everyone. Want more news like this? Sign up to receive our email newsletter and never miss an update! By submitting above, you agree to our privacy policy.

Wynes is by no means arguing that we should return to the days of incandescent light bulbs, or switch back to disposable bags, or start throwing clothes in the dryer all willy-nilly. Curbing those wasteful actions does help—but we need to make sure we're mixing those small interventions in with a few big ones.