Climate Change and You: How to Protect the Environment in Your Community
Climate change is a huge issue facing the world today. So huge, in fact, that you might feel like there’s nothing you alone can do about it. However, the fight against climate change requires the cooperation of everyone, and no effort to protect the environment is too small. Read on to discover how you can make a difference in your changing climate.
What is climate change?
Climate change refers to a shift in the usual weather patterns, or climate, of a particular location. On a larger scale, climate change is the changing temperature of the Earth’s air, land, and oceans. While weather patterns can vary from month to month and year to year, climate change refers to shifts over long periods of time.
What causes climate change?
Climate change is the result of heat becoming trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere. Heat gets trapped because of greenhouse gases, which prevent the Sun’s energy from leaving the atmosphere. This is known as the greenhouse effect.
Greenhouse gases come from different places, but use of fossil fuels is the biggest way that humans contribute to the greenhouse effect. Fossil fuel emissions come from a variety of sources. Industry contributes over 20 percent of total emissions, while transportation in the form of vehicles, airplanes, trains, and ships is responsible for about 27 percent of emissions. The energy you use to light and heat your home contributes to the greenhouse effect, as does agriculture and deforestation.
What are the effects of climate change?
When you measure climate change in degrees, the issue may seem small. However, even a small change in the Earth’s temperature can have a severe impact. Climate change can cause:
- Rising sea levels.
- More severe and frequent storms.
- Drought and heat waves.
- Plant and animal extinctions.
How could climate change impact my community?
The effects of climate change could mean real problems for communities around the globe. Extreme weather events can devastate communities, causing deaths, destroying livelihoods, and leading to years-long rebuilding efforts.
Changes in rainfall and weather can disrupt the production of food crops, increasing the cost of groceries and creating food insecurity in communities not accustomed to wondering where their next meal will come from. Floods and droughts can disrupt the supply of fresh water for drinking, crop irrigation, and energy. If you live in a coastal area, you could even see the landscape transform completely due to rising sea levels.
What can I do about climate change?
It’s not hard to reduce your carbon footprint. With a few small changes to your lifestyle, you can reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions you produce. Here are some ways to get started:
- Reduce how much you drive. By opting for walking, bicycling, or public transportation whenever you can, you can reduce the amount of fossil fuels your vehicle consumes. When you have to drive, try to carpool to reduce the number of emissions-producing vehicles on the road.
- Choose vehicles with better gas mileage. Cars contribute to emissions through their gasoline usage, so the less fuel you need, the smaller your carbon footprint. Driving a more fuel-efficient car will also save you money.
- Lower driving speeds. Driving at speeds over 70 mph consumes more fuel than driving at lower speeds.
- Reduce your meat consumption. Meat production is a major contributor to climate change, especially beef and lamb. Since people in industrialized nations eat, on average, twice as much meat as is considered healthy, cutting back could benefit your health as well.
- Moderate your thermostat. Keeping your house cooler in winter and warmer in summer reduces the amount of gas and electricity you use. Both gas and electric temperature control systems use fossil fuels. If you can’t sacrifice comfort, look for other options for making your home green, like passive solar heating or a geothermal heating and cooling system.
- Switch light bulbs for LEDs. Since LED lights consume less electricity than incandescent and fluorescent bulbs, this swap can create a more eco-friendly home.
Stopping the progression of climate change requires a global effort, but the change begins with you. To help in the fight against climate change, start incorporating these strategies for energy efficiency into your life today. For more information on tax rebates and incentives for green home improvements, click here.