Individual Research Paper for Global Perspectives

10 October 2016

The single biggest environmental environmental and humanitarian crisis of our time. The Earth’s atmosphere is overloaded with heat-trapping carbon dioxide, which threatens large-scale disruptions in climate with disastrous consequences’ (nrdc. org). Climate change has been a natural phenomenon happening for centuries, for example, the different seasons during times of the year.

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However, ever since the industrialization and urbanization of the world, CO2 levels recorded by NASA, Gapminder, and EPA has evidently shown the drastic increase. So much so that Al Gore, a famous politician and activist in America, made a film called The Inconvenient Truth, showcasing the direct impact humans have on the earth. According to National Geographic, the problem which causes heat to be trapped in the atmosphere are the gas emissions. Several gases are generalized under the greenhouse gases title.

Greenhouse gases include CO2 – from fossil fuels and deforestation, Methane – created from pastoral processes and unhealthy waste management, Nitrous Oxide – essentially formed from the use of fertilizers, and Fluorinated gases – generally in accordance with industrial methods (epa. gov). Source: IPCC (2007) Additionally, with every cause, there are effects, these effects are ambiguous, ranging from melting ice caps to evolving ecosystems to floods. To process discovery. om’s article, the main effects of global warming are: rising of sea levels – everywhere, due to the heat which melts ice caps and glaciers; heat waves; storms and floods created – as a result of escalated temperatures atmospherically and ocean-wise; droughts; diseases – infrequent waves of “disease-carrying creatures” triggered by the warm temperatures; economic consequences; war; biodiversity and ecosystem detriment. The causes of global warming – accumulative greenhouse gases – have large impacts on the environment and ultimately shape the way we live, as there are innumerable effects evolved from global warming.

Not only do the ways we live affect global warming now, but also affect our future circumstances. Gapminder. org show statistics of CO2 emissions since 1820’s, where every person emitted less than 3 tons of CO2 per year. Up till 2011, the highest CO2 emission per person goes up to 21 tons annually. The country that emitted the most was China, which each person emitted 6. 8 tons per year, and the yearly rate of total CO2 emitted was 9. 11 million tons from the burning of fossil fuels. The rate of carbon dioxide emissions sky-rocketed as a result from the burning of fossil fuels.

This may have been due to the industrialization and modernization of the world, but we have crossed the line by far. The knowledge of this is crucial – carbon dioxide traps heat at the atmosphere and is a main cause of global warming. If we carry on in our current situation, emitting perilous greenhouse gases through deforestation, burning fossil fuels, utilizing fertilizers and other harmful agricultural activities, all effects currently caused by global warming will proliferate and many components of the environment will fluctuate.

National Geographic affirms such predictions that “sea levels are expected to rise between 7 and 23 inches by the end of the century”; “floods and droughts will become more common”, an example is the rainfall in Ethiopia, which “could decline by 10 percent over the next 50 years”; fresh water will become a scarce, “if the Quelccaya ice cap in Peru continues to melt at it’s current rate, it will be gone by 2100, leaving thousands of people who rely on it for drinking water and electricity without a source of either”; severe storms and hurricanes are anticipated; and ecosystems will metamorphose, which may result in the fluctuating breeding of creatures, shown from concurrent trends of skinny polar bears ever since the ice has been melting – approximately the 1980’s.

As claimed by NASA’s climate change site, the Arctic sea ice has been losing 12% per decade, “In 2012, Arctic summer sea ice reached it’s lowest extent on record”; “carbon dioxide concentrations are at their highest in 650,000 years”; “the global average sea level has risen 4-8 inches over the past century”, rising “3. 8mm per year”; the global temperature rises at a 1. 5? F on average, ever since 1880, and that “January 2000 to December 2009 was the warmest decade on record”; Greenland loses 100 billion tons of land ice per year, “Greenland Ice loss doubled between 1996 and 2005”. The importance of this Greenland ice sheet, is that it mainly determines the sea level on a global scale, “If melted completely, the Greenland ice sheet contains enough water to raise sea level by 5-7 meters”. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.

S EPA) states that the dominating constituent of global warming is us. We are accountable for most of what the earth is going through at the current moment. This is true, as we release copious quantities of greenhouse gases from industrial systems, burning fossil fuels and non-renewable resources, an example shown from China. Moreover, IPCC reports that “the consumption of fossil fuels accounts for 56. 6% of all anthropogenic greenhouse gases”. This means that the fossil fuels we burn for energy make up 56. 6% of all human emissions of greenhouse gases. Consequently, global lifestyle has impacted the world on a scale that is much larger than ourselves. It has and will cause more harm than good.

The vast amounts of greenhouse gases accumulated during the several past decades have begun to show it’s true colors. The phenomenal statistics have revealed to us that if our careless acts persist throughout the decades, the world will eventually be a melting pot of damaged waste. As the difference of the amount of CO2 emitted had increased greatly, and the effects of this has flourished throughout the world, it is without a doubt that global warming is one of the main issues we must deal with. Nationally, in May 2011, Los Angeles was rated the second most polluted city out of 24 cities (citymayors. com), due to the ozone and air pollution, and many citizens suffer asthma and other health hazardous problems because of the pollution. Also, mnn. om states that LA Long Beach Riverside was “ranked #3 in long term particle pollution, #1 in ozone pollution and #4 in short term particle pollution”. The problem may be arising from the vast usage of cars, coal fired power plants which consumes more energy and electricity etc. According to sciencedaily. com, Dr. Weaver mentions that “Air pollution shortens lifespan, it lands our children and elderly in emergency rooms, and it can make children and teens more vulnerable to lung disease for the rest of their lives. ” We need to stop this environmental threat. How to we prevent global warming? How have people began to take action? What can we do to switch the life-threatening statistics? Through our healthy lifestyles and courses of action on a personal, national, and global basis.

A healthy lifestyle refers to an individual’s role to prevent global warming, incorporating “complete physical, mental, and social well-being” (WHO), with actions and using the initiative to “achieve optimum health” (healthylifestyleliving. com), achieving optimum health for yourself and the environment. Firstly, on a global and national scale, modern technology such as low energy products, environmentally friendly systems, and ‘green’ producers have begun and been able to reduce CO2 emissions. Some low energy products made by Imtech, a European technical service provider for innovative technology, involve public LED lighting – which has already been established in more than 100 European cities, “cuts energy consumption by 30 to 70%”; green petabyte data centers from “efficient and low energy as possible” to achieve “electricity savings of up to 30% (imtech. eu).

Green producers include manufacturers of renewable energy – hydropower, solar, wind, geothermal and bio-energy. For example, SEIA (Solar Energy Industries Association), an industry that manufactures and installs solar panels residentially, non-residentially, and for utility, installed 1032. 7 Megawatts of solar in California in 2012, which is “enough to power 626,000 houses”. Moreover, statistics show (seia. org) that the “U. S now has over 7,700 MW of installed solar electric capacity, enough to power more than 1. 2 million American households” (seia. org). This is a great solution to using renewable energy, as solar panels are installed for land, water, and hazardous materials (ususa. org).

Also, as SEIA’s solar panels are installed residentially, non-residentially, and for utility, this improves the environment’s energy consumption, decreasing the use of fossil fuels and non renewable energies. Another example of green technology are the wind power installations. The American Wind Energy Association’s quarterly market report calculated that 13,124 MW was installed in 2012, and in total, the U. S possesses 60,000 megawatts of wind capacity, enough to power around 15 million homes (online. wsj. com). The U. S had it’s big break in 2012, with numerous installations of green technology implemented. As it is one of the world’s largest economies (cnn. com), it is influential and if they continue to take these courses of actions, the CO2 emissions will begin to reduce as they replace fossil fuels with renewable energy.

In reference to my research of modern technology on reducing CO2 emissions, if we continue to put into effect these products and installations, I believe it would reduce the amount of CO2 emitted, which would then slowly accumulate to reverse global warming. The aims for these products are to save energy and reduce CO2 emissions. These installations do, and if CO2 continues to be reduced globally and nationally, the world may not become a melting point after all. Secondly, from a personal perspective, daily routines and lifestyles which have already been applied can be used to reduce individuals’ carbon footprints. To begin with, the LA County Residential Recycling Program website provides courses of action for individuals to engage sustainability in their daily lives.

Four factors they focus on are: Reducing, Reusing, Recycling and Rethinking. Some courses of action they have taken locally are: reusing disposable shopping bags, plastic bottles, fabric softener sheets, house items in general; reducing waste-potential products in the kitchen, garages, gardens – choosing products without individual packaging, setting up a compost bin, bringing canvas/tote bags to supermarkets; Moreover, the concepts they use ultimately begin with “Rethink” – rethinking what they throw away and minimizing the waste, including their Conversion Technology – providing renewable energy and other green products from the conversion of reusable waste.

In Hong Kong, pollution leading to global warming is a very large and conflicted situation. Air quality varies in different areas of Hong Kong, because mass amounts of cars and other vehicles’ diesel fumes are being concentrated in one small area – especially during traffic times and congestion in tunnels that generate air pollution through unhealthy diesel or oil and unsustainable engines. In reference to the chart below, evidence shows that the roadside pollution has heightened greatly, and in 2011, approximately 170 days in a year exceeded API (air pollution index) of 100. According to the EPD of Hong Kong (epd. gov. hk), this was due to the Nitrogen Dioxide at roadsides which had increased by 23%.

Although this factor had caused the API to increase, other main air pollutants had dropped in 2011 – Sulphur Dioxide by 56%, nitrogen oxides by 28% and others. Courses of action the government has committed to reduce and improve the air pollution are by reducing vehicle emissions by subsidizing new buses and financing trials for green and advanced transport technology, available to the public sector. Furthermore, not only is the outdoor air pollution a predominant issue in Hong Kong, but also indoor air quality. The Hong Kong EPD states it is a growing concern. One of the ways the government has intervened with this was implementing the Statutory Non-Smoking areas in Hong Kong, mainly indoors (tco. gov. k). Also, gov. hk advises residents to save energy at home – switching off energy-consuming products, cleaning air conditioner filters and maintaining moderate ventilation in order to maintain health. If Hong Kong continues it’s ‘unhealthy’ lifestyle without taking beneficial action – what would it look like? To begin with, the air pollution would fluctuate, as shown in the chart above, the ever-deteriorating air quality will worsen. Secondly, more children and the elderly would begin to fall ill due to the inadequate air quality, which may even cause deaths. This is affirmed if additional smokers and non renewable consuming diesel increase.

As studies claim from the EPA smoking website, passive smoking is worse than primarily breathing it in, and it may also induce lung cancer; also the instability for children’s health, second hand smoking may cause lung diseases such as asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis etc. These are clearly unhealthy and may even cause the risk of deaths per year in Hong Kong to increase [slowly but effectively] which may retain people from coming to Hong Kong. Moreover, in the discussion about Hong Kong’s pollution (bbc), a concern which has been recognized by the government is to change the type of engines used in diesel-powered vehicles that emits harmful pollutants. This means if more and more harmful pollutants enter the atmosphere, contributing to global warming, extensive diseases and health would be immutable.

Contrastingly, if everybody in Hong Kong took individual steps to benefit the environment – by reducing, reusing, recycling and rethinking the waste and energies we use, we would be able to ameliorate our environment. Green Living from National Geographic advises us to do the following globally: 1. Reduce fossil fuel use, 2. Plant trees, 3. Reduce Waste, 4. Conserve water. What does that look like for an individual? Cutting down energy consumption, through saving electricity by using “energy-efficient appliances and compact fluorescent light bulbs” (greenliving. nationalgeographic. com), utilzing renewable energies such as solar and wind energy, and hydropower.

Planting trees may be substituted to planting vegetation, for the exchange of CO2 to oxygen, in one’s backyard or around one’s house. Thirdly, reducing waste as an individual ranges from food to materialistic waste, for example, reducing the amount you eat in order to not waste any excess food, or to have a compost bin, and recycling recyclable materials – paper, metal, plastic. Finally, conserving water on a personal level requires switching off taps during non-utilization states, quicker showers to not waste water, collecting rainwater for house-plants. Personally, my family, friends and I, continue contributing to preserving our natural environment.

Courses of action my family and I has taken are recycling office-paper; printing double sided; recycling plastic – bottles; boxes and bags; using canvas bags instead of supermarket-provided plastic bags; switching off our lights when it is not being used; take quick showers; using water bottles from home; we use energy saving lights and an high-energy saving refrigerator; grow small plants by our window sill. Some strategies my friends have taken to conserve our environment include walking to school; taking public transport; using fans instead of air-conditioners at home; working with recycling organizations in the neighborhood – in Canada; doing beach visits to pick up the trash washed up on shore.

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