By Larraine Roulston:
For the past several decades, progress in switching to green energy has been slow. It is a sad commentary that we have not been serious about cutting emissions since the first Earth Day. Few world leaders have embraced this “hot topic” challenge and many others have been dragging their feet. However, a recent study (December 2014) published in Environmental Research Letters should, at long last, kick politicians into action.
Researchers Katherine Ricke and Ken Caldeira found that the time from production of carbon dioxide emissions to its peak warming effect is 10 years, with long term impacts spanning decades into the future. Ricke, who led the study, said, “The difference for an economist or a policy maker between something that happens 10 years from now or 40 years from now is a big deal.” With such a rapid warming effect, this research states that “people alive today are very likely to benefit from emissions avoided today.” Ricke was motivated to pursue this study as economists’ interest piqued, knowing that damage costs will increase due to rising sea levels and tropical cyclones. As a result of this study, we may be on the verge of realizing the international political and bureaucratic determination necessary to cut emissions and slow climate change.
One court ruling in the Hague requires the Dutch government to cut its emissions by at least 25% within five years. The environmental law group ClientEarth’s James Thornton announced, “There are moments in history when only courts can address overwhelming problems. In the past it has been issues like discrimination. Climate change is our overwhelming problem and this court has addressed it. The Dutch court’s ruling should encourage courts around the world to tackle climate change now.”
When citizens elect environmentally sound politicians, city planners can start incorporating bike lanes and more public transit, and federal leaders will begin enforcing carbon taxes and seek clean alternative energy.
Here are small changes you can make to cut CO2 emissions:
- Insure that your home is well insulated.
- Have at least one day of vegetarian meals a week.
- Turn off lights and electrical equipment when not in use.
- Buy energy efficient appliances.
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Compost.
- Telecommute to lessen traffic and flights.
- Resolve to drive less or car share. Do not let your car idle.
- Plant a tree.
- Hang dry your laundry.
- Buy local produce.
- When voting, keep the environment in mind.
As stated in Global Warming for Dummies by Elizabeth May, Canada’s Green Party political leader and Zoë Caron, “Global Warming is opening doors for the development of new types of fuels, leading the shift to reliable energy sources and creating a vision of a greener tomorrow. And the best part? You’re right in the middle of it all, helping to make those changes.” The book also noted that dedicated scientific researchers continue to lay the groundwork for our understanding of climate change. Without their work, we would not even be aware of the effects our actions have on the planet.
When people lead, politicians will follow.
The $9.7 Trillion Problem: Cyclones and Climate Change
NASA Shows Stark Year in the Life of CO2
What’s At Stake in Lima Climate Talks
Larraine authors illustrated children’s books on composting at www.castlecompost.com