global warming – what are we doing about it?

Submitted by sproutingforth on Mon, 2007-06-04 09:21

According to some scientists, Africa will be the continent hardest hit by global warming. Based on the report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [urban sprout] around 600,000 square kilometres of cultivatable land may be ruined in Africa because of the predicted increase in temperature of 2.5 degrees and rising sea levels threaten coastal infrastructure. Another study by the University of Pretoria estimates that $25 billion may be lost in crop failure [economist]. Some plant species could disappear and Africa will suffer from drought, food shortages, and disease. It’s not a pretty picture.

Global warming is caused by greenhouse gases such as CO2, methane, nitrous oxide and ozone depleting CFCs. Human lifestyles are largely accountable for producing too many of these gases, particularly the burning of fossil fuels like coal and gas.

The world is already experiencing change: the flow of ice from glaciers in Greenland has more than doubled over the past decade and at least 279 species of plants and animals are already responding to global warming, moving closer to the poles. []

But can we stop it? There is a raging debate... between:
• those who think we can [guardian]
• those who believe that global warming is irreversible [living scotsman]
• and those who believe adaptation measures should be our main focus [timesonline]

The Stern Report assesses the economic impact of global warming and recommends action to mitigate global warming. [urban sprout]

Halting global warming will only happen if we radically alter the way in which we live and if we pressure governments and business to change.

South African business is already responding to pressure as they find it increasingly difficult to find international buyers who are more concerned about the environment. Europe, our biggest market for coal, is turning its back on SA deeming its production too high in nitrogen. []

There is no ‘quick fix’ to curbing global warming. It will be require a combination of strategies that include energy efficiency initiatives, using more renewable energy sources and the capture and storage of carbon (carbon sequestration).

Whilst the following may seem trite, in the face of something so vast, it at least feels as if there is something in our power that we can do to make up for our short-sighted ignorance and total disregard for the Earth, and the harm we have inflicted on her.

What you can do

green in the office:

• let employees work at home or close to home
• avoid fast food – overpackaging means mountains of rubbish
• use organic caterers
• use public transport or start a lift club
• turn your computer off in the evening
• get flat-screen monitors – LCDs use a third of the electricity of CRTs
• lose your tie so you don’t need air conditioning
• support partners & suppliers with green policies in place
• use recycled paper
• make it easy to recycle with clearly marked containers
• place reminder signs around the office to recycle
• find out how to dispose of e-waste
• get green electricity from Amatola Green Power
• ditch paper invoicing & statements in favour of electronic versions
• grow a roof garden
• start a ‘plant a tree’ initiative
• buy rechargeable batteries
• support environmentally responsible initiatives
• if you want to get rid of it, freecycle it on
• insist your cleaning company uses eco-friendly cleaning products
• use eco-friendly paints – no hazardous chemicals
• take the stairs instead of the lift

green at home

• observe the 3 Rs – reduce, reuse and recycle
• bike wherever possible
• boycott products that are overpackaged
• replace standard light bulbs with CFLs
• close the fridge door – even a few seconds wastes energy
• recycle your paper, tins, plastic, cardboard & glass
• create a compost pile for vege peels, eggshells, coffee grounds
• eat organic – fewer chemicals, better for you & the environment
• better yet, grow your own
• reduce meat consumption or become a vegetarian
• consume less, share more, live simply
• insulate your home & draught-proof windows and doors
• turn down your geyser thermostat
• plant a tree or 23
• support local and organic markets, businesses, farmers and products
• support and donate to green NGOs
• turn off the lights
• use energy-efficient fridges, washing machines & dishwashers
• sun dry, don’t tumble-dry
• say ‘no’ to plastic bags
• use eco-friendly cleaning products and toiletries
• get solar-powered water heating
• use eco-friendly paints on walls, wood and exteriors
• shower with a friend
• have a green wedding
• inflict your green ideas on anyone and everyone else
• start your own green blog and spread the word

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