What is climate change (and what can we do about it)?
Updated: May 26
Climate change has been a really hot topic lately and, in order to participate in a conversation about it, it is necessary to explain what it actually is.
But, before we talk about climate change, we have to know what climate is.
Climate is the average weather in a particular area over a more extended time, for example, decades or centuries. When talking about the climate, we include information on, for example, the average temperature in different seasons, rainfall, and sunshine. There are five main types of climates in the world: tropical, dry, temperate, continental, and polar.
Every climate type has its characteristics which have been more or less the same for a long time now.
But, fast forward to our time, and we start talking about climate change. Climate change is the shift in those conditions, which begin to change, sometimes even drastically. For example, we all have witnessed warm winters, floods, and other types of untypical weather conditions.
Climate change primarily leads to extreme weather events, which can become more severe and more frequent, leading to many unfavorable situations, such as extreme rainfall, which causes flooding, more frequent wildfires, extreme heatwaves, the rise of the sea level leading to the disappearing of some islands and shores, droughts, and, eventually turning farmland into the desert which inevitably leads to the increase of the price of food production and, consequently, hunger.
What is it caused by?
The leading cause of climate change is the humans’ use of fossil fuels, which, when burning, release greenhouse gases, in most cases carbon dioxide. The gases remain in the Earth’s atmosphere, preventing the Earth from cooling down and raising the overall temperature. Since the 19th century, our planet has already warmed up by 1.2 degrees Celsius, and it is continuing to do so.
If we manage to keep global warming under control and up to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2100, we can avoid the worst consequences.
So, what should we do to keep global warming and climate under control?
What can we, as individuals, do about it?
Yes, most solutions need to be adopted by governments and large international companies, but we, as individuals, can do some things to keep global warming under control. It is well known that we, the consumers, following the principles of the law of supply and demand, indirectly define what manufacturers produce and offer us.
Some evidence is seen on a daily basis when you go to your local supermarket, you can see a lot of “greener” products than a couple of years ago, mainly due to the consumer demand. True, the question is, are they really green, or are they just marketed in that way? But, the point is that they did not exist at all a couple of years ago. So, some changes are already happening.
Accordingly, our choices lead to better, more sustainable solutions, and it is our duty to make them whenever possible.
Therefore, let us begin.
1. Forget the plane.
Try avoiding airplanes as much as you can. Per journey, planes produce more carbon dioxide than cars.
2. Try avoiding cars as well.
Yes, cars are a better solution than planes, but they still produce a lot of carbon dioxide (think about rush hours in big cities worldwide). If you do need a car, think about an electric vehicle. It does not produce carbon dioxide while driving.
3. Travel by train if going long-distance.
The train is the most sustainable type of transportation, especially when it comes to long-distance.
4. Cycle of walk short-distance.
Whenever possible, use your own two feet to get from place A to place B. It can be by walking or riding a bike because you do not produce carbon dioxide in any way. Not to mention all the health benefits it brings along the way.
5. Use energy-efficient products.
When your old appliance breaks down, and if the repair is not an option, buy an energy-efficient new one. If all devices needed less electricity, less electricity would be produced, and fewer fossil fuels would have to be used in power plants.
6. Insulate your home.
This is closely connected to the above. If you try to heat your house, but the warmth keeps going out through poorly-insulated roofs and old windows, you are losing both the warmth and money. Insulate it properly, and you will not only save money in the long run, but you will do good for the environment as well.
7. Choose appliances wisely.
No, you do not need all the new gadgets. You can dry your clothes on a clothesline, and rice can be cooked in a regular bowl, not in a special appliance. The list goes on and not, and the conclusion is simple—you do not have to buy something just because you saw a commercial for it.
8. Buy local and seasonal produce.
This is one of the easiest things you could do to fight climate change. At first, it does not make much sense how is local and seasonal produce connected to global warming. Actually, it is pretty straightforward. Local produce needs to travel less to the store, therefore, produces less carbon dioxide. Imagine how many kilometers do raspberries from Africa or South America or some other country with a warm climate have to travel and how much carbon dioxide that produces. If you buy apples from your local farm, significantly less carbon dioxide will be produced due to that. The next thing is seasonal. Just try to imagine how much energy is needed to grow strawberries in February. And, honestly, do they taste the same as the strawberries grown in the summer? This unfortunately is not only about food, also plants and flowers are often produced very far from where they will be sold. Next time in the store, try looking for local and seasonal food. If more people did that, the producers would eventually stop producing products with a big carbon footprint.
9. Repair and reuse.
Try repairing and reusing stuff you already have. For example, if your socks developed holes on the tip of your toes, wash them and use them as cloths for cleaning. There are so many possibilities that lead to less consumption, which then leads to less production and, in the end, less carbon dioxide emission.
10. Learn, read and try to adopt new ways of thinking
These are just some of the ideas which lead to reducing carbon dioxide emissions and, therefore, lowering the possibility of global warming. If you want to make an impact, read more about how you can fight climate change, there are so many other ideas, options, and solutions.
In the end, if we all made a little bit of impact, it would make a bigger impact when combined and, eventually, an enormous impact which can lead to a better and greener future.