It might not feel like it now, but according to records 2016 is one of the hottest years on record.
Global warming is real. 97% of scientists agree that climate change is happening. The myth persists that in the scientific community there is disagreement on the existence and cause of climate change. In reality experts agree: it exists and we are causing it.
Recent polls have shown that more people than ever are now becoming concerned about global warming. Up to 70% of people “worry a great deal” about climate change. Sadly, in many places politicians continue to lag behind.
What do the facts say?
May 2016 was the hottest month in recorded history. In fact for the last 13 months recorded temperatures have been the highest seen in the last 136 years.
This year the ice began to melt in the Arctic earlier in the season than ever before. Alaska had its warmest spring in history, and Finland recorded temperatures 3 to 5 degrees higher than the norm for the region.
Abnormally heavy rainfall was experienced in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere unprecedented bleaching of coral occurred on the Great Barrier Reef. The high temperature in the ocean caused this.
So what does this have to do with me?
“Worrying a great deal” about an issue is a good place start.
It can also feel overwhelming. What difference can my personal actions make? How does my tiny contribution to recycling and energy saving actually change anything? It can be tempting to bury our heads in the proverbial sand and hope the problem somehow goes away.
There are many things you can do. If every person does his or her part, it will have an impact. Here are three actions you can take:
- Take a stand!
Take a stand on the issue. Speak about global warming on social media, with your family and friends, in your community. Raise awareness wherever you can. What is your local government doing about energy saving and environmental issues? When the constituency brings pressure to bear, elected office bearers will start to do something too.
- Energy saving in your home
There are many ways you can implement energy saving in your home, and you can reduce your footprint. Consider renewable energy such as installing a solar geyser. Insulate your ceiling to keep the keep your home warm in winter and cool in summer without needing heaters and air conditioners.Other easy ideas for energy saving at home include replacing your light bulbs with LED bulbs and switching off lights when you are not in the room.Wash your clothes on a lower temperature setting. Buy appliances that are energy saving, or are at least more efficient. Hang your washing on the line to dry instead of using the tumble dryer.Reduce your waste by not accepting plastic in the first place. Each time you are offered a plastic bag, make sure you say no. Write to manufacturers to encourage them to reduce their packaging.Don’t waste the food you buy, and make sure you are not throwing food away. Eat more meat-free meals as producing meat is very resource intensive. Table scraps can be used to make compost. Reduce, reuse and recycle and help to limit what ends up in landfills as these are one of the biggest creators of greenhouse gases.
- Rethink your transportation
There are many changes you can make in your life when it comes to transportation, and they add up to a big impact. In South Africa there is limited, reliable public transport but you could start to car pool. Think of all those vehicles on our roads, most with single occupants. Consider the fuel used, the emissions, the traffic.When you do have to use your car, make sure that your tyres are pumped to the right pressure as this will influence your fuel use. Keep your car in good condition with regular servicing to ensure that you are energy saving with limited emissions. Consider a hybrid vehicle when you next purchase a car, and if that is not possible, buy a fuel efficient one. Do you really need that 4 litre 4 x 4 to take the children to soccer practiceThink too of how often you fly. Air travel is a massive contributor to greenhouse gases. If it is business travel, could you have your meeting on Skype or video-conference? If it is a holiday, could you go somewhere nice, closer to home?
The ball is in your court
There are many actions that you can take that will make a difference. And if you inspire others around you to make changes, the ripples will spread out further and further.
2016 is the hottest year on record. There is no time to waste. Energy saving should be your top priority.