By Edmund Zhen
Published: October 24th, 2018
When the United States decided to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on June 1st, 2017, the decision significantly impeded the world’s struggle to slow down climate change.
In 2014, the United States spent about $2.7 billion to combat climate change, a hefty sum that matched with contributions from two of Europe’s largest economies – Germany and France. With the US’s withdrawal, the framework of the Paris Agreement will remain intact and functional, but its funding has taken a big hit.
When foreign governments less advanced than the US prove that they are wiser by acknowledging and taking action on the most imminent threat to humanity, it is up the citizens of the world to do everything we can to take a stand with them and preserve a habitable environment for future generations. But mitigating this plight is a task easier said than done. It takes nothing less than time, sacrifice, and dedication.
Scientists from the United Nations recently released a report warning that we have a little over a decade to avoid racing past a warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) over preindustrial temperature levels. So, with this circulating in the back of our minds, what can we do?
One of the biggest perpetrators of global warming we see in our daily lives is the carbon emission from cars. In America, there are 263.6 million registered vehicles, and the average car emits about six tons of carbon dioxide. In a year, that amounts to 1 billion five hundred and eighty-one million six hundred thousand tons.
Fighting this is possible. Walk or ride your bike when you can in order to cut out carbon emissions completely. Carpooling and public transportation are proven to drastically reduce CO2 emissions. Another thing you can do is to use less water.
Water-treatment plants consume a large amount of energy in order to work, so even using less cold water will have downstream carbon savings. For one, you can take shorter showers. Simply cutting a few minutes from your shower time can potentially save hundreds of pounds of carbon pollution a year. Besides, water treatment plants recycle water and you can play a part in that idea as well.
When you go shopping, make sure the products you buy are recyclable. Landfills are piling up and plastic bottles aren’t degrading due to their materials. But we have been doing quite a good job at recycling. In 1980, recycling and composting kept 14.5 million tons of trash from landfills and incinerators. By 2013, that number had increased to 87.2 million tons.
It isn’t enough to do these things alone. We need numbers. We need everyone to do their part in order to collectively make a real difference. Here are some ways to help spread awareness about climate change and how to combat it.
According to United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), environmental awareness campaigns are most successful when they are targeted to specific groups or populations. Lots of people don’t pay much attention to environmental issues because of a lack of understanding of how the problem would affect them personally. Educating people on how dangerous climate change can be is one thing that can help. You can do that in local outreaches, educating the people around your neighborhood about practices and routines that can be adopted to keep our world cleaner. Some ways to do that is through social media or word of mouth. Social media today has flourished into something that is as ubiquitous as food or water. Taking this issue online reaches more people than you can imagine and might even help them understand it better as you can provide visuals and supporting pieces of evidence.
Again, saving our planet is a collective effort that requires everyone to do their part. Without that, the effort would be futile, so set yourself as an example. Show the people around you that following these steps can not only help the environment, but it can be fun too! Carpooling with your friends or loved ones help you form a deeper relationship with one another, and recycling helps you save money. With something that fills two needs with one deed, the question is, why not?