There is a lot of fear and uncertainty going around about the future of Mother Earth.
In a new report published in late 2018, the world’s top climate scientists made their starkest warning so far. They claimed our current actions are not sufficient for us to meet our target of 1.5C of warming. We must do more.
It’s more or less settled science that climate change is real. Also, its effects are prominent and affects us in many ways. For instance, the possibility of flooding in cities like Miami is increased. Millions of lives along the Brahmaputra River in north-eastern India are threatened. Moreover, the sex life of plants and animals are disrupted as well.
We don’t need to ask if climate change is happening, or whether humans are causing it. Instead, we need to ask: ‘what can we do?’
The goal is simple. In essence, greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane are the climate’s worst enemy. It’s released into the atmosphere when we burn oil, coal or other fossil fuels for energy. When we use less of it, the demand of these unsustainable energy drops. In addition, we can also save money while curbing our contribution to climate change.
In Malaysia where the main source of energy is still largely revolving around non-renewable energy, we too can do our part to make an impact. Here are 6 ways to combat climate change:
1. Speak up!
Talk to your friends and family. Make sure your representatives are making good decisions. We could voice our concerns via social media and help spark the passion for climate protection. It is also important to pay attention to government officials that are more aware in this issue.
2. Invest in energy-efficient appliances.
Energy-efficient appliances were first introduced in 1987. Since then, the efficiency of these appliances kept some 2.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide out of our atmosphere. That is roughly equivalent to the annual carbon pollution made by 440 million cars. When shopping for washing machines, refrigerators or other appliances, look for the ‘Energy Star’ label.
3. Reduce water waste
Using less water helps to reduce carbon pollution too. Why? It takes plenty of energy to pump, heat, treat and store your water. Take shorter showers, turn off the tap while brushing your teeth. Furthermore, we could switch to water-efficient fixtures and appliances. These could save a lot of electricity, which directly translates to reduced carbon pollution.
4. Reduce food waste and meat consumption
When you waste less food, you cut down on energy consumption. Huge amounts of energy are used to grow, process, package and ship your food. However, roughly 40 percent of food just ends up in the landfill. Hence, it is clear why we should only buy food we will actually eat. Also, livestock products are among the most resource-intensive to produce. So, eating meat-free items can make a big difference, too.
5. Pull the plug(s)
Electronics use energy even when they’re not charging. To paint a clearer picture, this ‘idle load’ across all households could add up to the output of 50 large power plants in the U.S. Thus, it is wise to not leave fully charged devices plugged into outlets. Unplug rarely used appliances, use power strip timers and adjust computer monitors to automatically power down when not in use.
6. Green your commute
As the weather can be unpredictable in Malaysia, commuting by foot might seem like an impossible task for most of us. However, we could do our part by other means too. Ride a bike to your destination if it is not too far. Besides, practice carpooling among colleagues. Switch to a hybrid vehicle if a hybrid vehicle is within your purchasing power. Last but not least, make full use of our public transportation (buses and trains).
As our Earth is the only habitable planet thus far, we need to be more responsible in this place we call home. Protecting the planet is not only a job for climate scientists or politicians, but for all citizens of the Earth.
Written by Mitchell Lim