Our planet is fragile and we should all work together to protect it for our future generations.
The planet’s climate is changing and scientists now have proof that human activity is causing global warming on a major scale. Greenhouse gas emissions, waste gases from fossil fuels such as oil and gas burned for our energy requirements, are causing warming. Over many decades since the industrial revolution, the world has seen technology dictate our energy progress into the 20th century. Our increasing love of travel and convenience saw unprecedented changes in energy resourcing throughout the developed world.
Pollution levels are at an all time high and this is causing climate change. High levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) is being pumped into the atmosphere causing the earth to warm and the ice caps to melt. This warming could cause sea levels to rise catastrophically, which in turn would cause flooding to huge areas leaving millions of people displaced. We have already seen severe floods occurring more frequently in the last few years, most recently in Pakistan where millions of people were affected by this disaster.The number of cars and vehicles on our roads is growing at an astounding rate and, not only is this one of the main causes of carbon emissions, but it is making it increasingly difficult to get around today, with many traffic jams and congestion causing more commuting problems for millions. Our love affair with the car is not over yet – imagine how many cars there will be within the next 20 years!
Deforestation is a daily occurrence. Huge areas of lush rainforests are being cut down, many to make way for the cultivation of palm oil – an excellent substitute to existing oil resources. The forests are so vital for our survival that it is tragic to imagine the world without trees. These wonderful living things provide us with our oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide in the air, helping to keep our atmosphere clean, like nature’s very own breathing apparatus.
How can we go about controlling our carbon footprint? Our carbon footprint is the amount of energy we use per household and subsequently how much CO2 each household produces from our consumption, including air travel. We can cut the energy levels that we use; one way is by heating our homes with sustainable energy resources that are better for the environment. Renewable resources like solar power, wind power, and wave power. Solar and wind power is becoming more affordable and will only get cheaper and more widely available to more families as technology advances.
The UK, being an island, is ideal for these resources to be utilised fully – terrific winds batter our shores every day, we are surrounded by water and of course, the sun is an infinite resource that we should have been using years ago!
What can we do as individuals to help reduce our Energy Use?
Other, smaller ways we can help the environment is by making individual changes at home. For example, composting food waste, insulating our homes more efficiently, growing our own vegetables to become more sustainable and by conserving our water usage, collecting rain water to use for irrigation. We can also buy more locally sourced food, decreasing the need to import from abroad by air.
Solar panels and wind turbines can be fitted to homes to supply hot water and electricity. These resources can save households a lot of money and the money paid out for installation can soon be made back, sometimes with a profit.
There is a definite change in attitudes – we are slowly becoming more aware of the possible outcome of our present actions. Keeping control of our carbon footprint will definitely be a necessity for us all – having more control over our energy use and cutting down our carbon emissions is the new challenge of our lifetime.
There are many new and available sources being looked into to help with our demand for energy. For example:
- biomass energy (also known as feedstock) – because it is wood and charcoal, the CO2 produced from this is the same as when the feed plants were alive meaning that no further waste gas is released into the atmosphere.
- nuclear power – this source of energy has always been politically charged and controversial and its progress has been delayed in many countries due to this.
- tidal power – this technology is still in its early stages of development and the expense is having a negative impact on its introduction
- geothermal energy – deep rooted energy source from beneath the earth’s surface, heat from the earth! Drilling and tapping into the source is expensive but costs should decrease as technology improves. The downside is CO2 and sulphates are released as waste and drilling can cause landslides in the immediate area.
- hydropower – water is the life source of earth and there are plants already established, but for practical and ethical reasons, small hydro plants are growing faster than bigger ones.
All these sources can produce clean energy, with no adverse effect to the planet. Many of these new ideas may not be introduced at all due to lack of funds or the prospect of how waste is controlled. (Financial Times Supplement – The Future of Energy)
The earth has many natural resources on offer; all we have to do is tap into them. The sooner we start to use these renewable resources, the sooner we will start to turn around the damage that has been done to our atmosphere. All the countries in the world and its people on all levels must act now, before there is no turning back! We have definitely started to see a huge change in our weather patterns, proof that so much toxic waste going into the air can only have an adverse effect on our already delicate and unpredictable natural systems.