Whether you believe that global warming affects you or not, it can’t be denied that earth’s climate is changing, and something must be done about it sooner, rather than later, to avoid irreversible consequences. The year 2020 has been a year of problems; in health, in economy and in weather. Some exemplar events in climate change for 2020 include what happened in Djibouti, where earlier this year they received up to 6 months-worth of rain in a few hours, as well as California, USA, where fires have been raging for over a month. According to the New York Times, climate change did not cause the wildfires, they were caused by human activities, but through intensified heatwaves and drier temperatures, the fires are getting worse. Climate change primarily presents itself through changes in water cycles – such as flooding, drought, rising sea levels or melting glaciers. Traveller24.com explained that up to nine world cities inch closer to water day-zero’s, like Cape Town in 2018.
Reading about such massive events can be de-motivating, as we think about how small we are compared to such events and dismiss the idea that we can enact change. But there is always hope. According to The Guardian, just a hundred companies are responsible for 71% of global greenhouse gas emissions – the majority of which are involved in producing energy, from coal or oil refining. Greenhouse emissions contribute to climate change, they comprise greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide (CO2) which trap heat from the sun on earth’s atmosphere, causing increased temperatures. Humanity needs to find alternatives to what we produce and apply pressure to larger bodies to switch to alternatives. The alternatives already exist; we can produce renewable energy from hydro dams, solar power and wind energy. We can also use electric vehicles, which won’t be redundant if we convert to producing renewable electricity. Businesses work by demand and make money from producing a supply, we can create a demand for renewable energy sources so that businesses will have no choice but to supply renewable energy.
“Traveller24.com explained that up to nine world cities inch closer to water day-zero’s, like Cape Town in 2018.“
But what can students do on an individual level? For the sake of our environment, we must try to change our lifestyles. Some helpful activities that students can engage in include; upcycling clothes. The World Wildlife Fund, in an article entitled “The Impact of a Cotton T-Shirt”, explains that it takes about 2700 litres of water to produce a single cotton shirt, and that by upcycling we reduce the demand to produce new clothes by making new clothes from our old clothes, thereby conserving water. Another alternative is thrift shopping, simply buying and selling used clothes instead of continuously buying new clothes can help conserve water. In other departments, we can recycle paper, this would reduce the rate at which trees are being cut down to produce more paper. We can also try and save water at home, by conserving grey water and rainwater. Grey water is used water from your house, especially the kitchen. It may contain dirt, hair, food or cleaning substances, and so it is advisable to use gently used water and not harshly used water that contains high amounts of cleaning detergent. Water from washing vegetables is a great example of greywater. Grey water can be used for washing laundry, irrigating crops and gardens, and flushing the toilet.
If you would like to go the extra mile to combat climate change, some drastic changes you can make to your lifestyle include reducing your consumption of animal products – especially beef. According to CSIRO, it takes an estimate of 50 thousand litres of water to produce only 1 kilogram of beef, as compared to 2385 litres of water for 1 kilogram of rice. If you do decide to reduce animal products, be sure to replace your sources of protein and nutrients in order to remain healthy – it’s also advisable to consult a health professional before making any drastic changes. You can also invest in an electric vehicle; which emits much less greenhouse gasses and is a great way to evade using fossil fuels. Another important thing you can do is to research the brands you buy from to ensure that they reflect the eco-friendly or sustainable behaviour you expect from them, and buy your goods and services accordingly.
There’s a lot we can do to help combat climate change but it is an ongoing process. Changing our own lifestyles and raising awareness should be the main objective, and the main aim is to evade a climate change disaster. Most importantly, remember that you are not too small to enact change.
Image: Giovanna Janos