By: Sophie Ellner, Editor in Chief, The Pawprint
Climate change is one of the largest threats facing Earth today. Humans are largely responsible for the disruption to the global climate. The global average surface temperature is increasing at a rate of 0.18 degrees Celsius (0.32 Fahrenheit) each year. This is mostly due to overuse of plastic and air pollution (greenhouse gases). Many animal species are going extinct or being harmed due to these factors. Some species include Polar Bears, Coral, Green Sea Turtles, and Mountain Gorillas are at extreme risk. As a result, many ecosystems and food chains are collapsing. Change needs to take place before the damage becomes irreversible.
Origins of Climate Change:
It is widely regarded that several periods have been the driving force behind climate change. Starting with the Agricultural Revolution, to the Industrial Revolution, and the Great Acceleration, these epochs are responsible for the change in climate.
The Agricultural Revolution occurred approximately around 10,000 B.C. A popular farming technique during this time was the slash and burn technique. This method was harmful for the environment as it generated massive amounts of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. By using this system they would remove a ring of bark from the trees which dried out all the trees and allowed them to burn more quickly. As time passed, people began using more complex tools to irrigate their land causing negative environmental impacts such as deforestation.
The Industrial Revolution originated in Britain before it spread around the world in the late 18th century. Many people began relying on fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas, allowing the mass production of goods. The fossil fuels created were harmful to the environment as many air pollutants were released into the atmosphere.
Finally, The Great Acceleration began in the mid-20th century. During this time, more cities became industrialized as technologies have continued to advance. Currently the Great Acceleration is still underway, reaching a point where new advancements can negatively affect earth. One of the biggest problems generated from the Great Acceleration is the use of plastic. It was invented prior to the Great Acceleration but it was not widely used until the 1960’s.
Overuse of Plastic Issues and Solutions:
Around 7 million tons of plastic waste is discarded in the ocean each year. Plastic is a major factor contributing to the negative human activity that affects Earth. It is composed of cellulose, coal, natural gas, salt and crude oil, which makes the material non-biodegradable. Plastic can have toxic effects to surrounding soil, which could seep into groundwater or other water sources. If the water is affected it can harm marine life in that specific body of water or ecosystem. One species in particular harmed by plastic are Sea Turtles. Plastic straws can become stuck in their nose killing them at a fast rate. Another animal species harmed are dolphins, 300,000 dolphins die each year due to discarded fishing nets and plastic materials. The danger to animals can cause an imbalance in the ecosystem and further accelerate the disappearance of certain marine species. On top of that, seventy percent of ocean garbage actually sinks to the seafloor, meaning we are unlikely to ever be able to clean it up.
We can prevent this by going plastic free or turning to biodegradable material. Multiple restaurants around the world are starting to use paper or biodegradable straws to help the environment. Biodegradable material will prevent any plastic toxins from seeping into groundwater or bodies of water ensuring the safety of marine life species for future generations.
Countries around the world such as The United States of America, Denmark, The United Arab Emirates, The United Kingdom, have installed a new trash can system called the Big Belly. The trashcan is powered by solar energy and is a waste and recycling management system. These trash cans can receive data from each other tracking the amount of waste/recycled materials disposed giving them their recycling footprint.
Air Pollution Issues and Solutions:
The United States alone produced an average of 5.13 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions in 2019. Earth’s rise in surface temperature is primarily driven by greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere, also impacting the oceans temperature. Coral reefs have turned white and died in some regions due to bleaching caused by the increase in ocean temperatures. The Great Barrier Reef has been exposed to bleaching 6 times the latest year being 2020.
It is important to decrease the amount of carbon emissions disposed into the air because the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere has increased temperatures. Greenhouse gas emissions cause a rise in climate change, heat waves, and droughts. We can prevent this by reducing the amount of emissions released into the air.
Dubai has implemented Careem bike stations throughout the city, including Dubai Marina, Downtown Dubai, and Palm Jumeirah. Their goal is to reduce carbon emissions but also encourage physical activity.
The UAE tracks their carbon emissions statistics as a country. The latest statistics show that the UAE has disposed of 222.61 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions through initiatives designed to support the environment.
The Careem bikes in Dubai have had success as their bike system has displaced 152,407 carbon emissions in 2019 alone. As more stations are added this figure will continue to increase.
Creative Sustainability Ideas around the World:
Countries around the world have thought outside the box to implement new sustainable ideas such as…
- AL MAMZAR PARK –
Dubai has taken the initiative to create the first known smart park in the city, Al Mamzar Park. The park uses solar energy and can power up the benches throughout the park allowing people to charge their phones. In addition, the park has drones hovering over that scan plants and trees for carbon emissions ratios.
2. FOOTFALL HARVESTING –
Footfall harvesting are floor tiles powered by human movement and activity. By stepping on the special floor tiles, the movement generates clean energy. The company behind this genius plan is Pavegen, which is from London. Countries such as China, India, UAE, UK, and the USA have included this technology in new smart city developments.
3. GREEN BUILDINGS –
Green Buildings promote a healthy lifestyle of living while creating a positive impact on the environment. The building’s unique designs allow plants to be the main feature of design. The purpose of green buildings is to improve air and water quality while using less energy and other natural resources.