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Nexus between climate change, lifestyles


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Nexus between climate change, lifestyles

By Napoleon Arhelo

 

In the past, the environmental concerns of developing countries were not about toxic waste, recycling, ozone layer depletion, and climate change. Rather, the focus was on streams, fuel wood, farmlands, animals, medicinal plants, and so on – all of which contribute to family livelihoods. Not anymore. Planet Earth is now under siege from the impacts of climate change occasioned mainly by local and far-away anthropogenic (man-made) activities.

Since the 1990s, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been publishing series of reports about greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere with a range of scenarios that portend adverse consequences. Greenhouse gasses are mainly carbon dioxide from combustion of fossil fuels (oil, gas, and coal) and methane released from agricultural activities. Sun’s heat, reflected by and escaping from the earth, gets trapped and retained by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This is a normal and natural process, but as more heat is retained by increased concentrations of these gases, it results in global warming which causes melting of ice caps and glaciers, rise in sea level, and generally unpredictable weather patterns.

Recently in Nigeria, incidents of flooding and flash floods are becoming more frequent and devastating; coastal cities are constantly under threat of inundation; desertification is shrinking arable land and taking a toll on grazing; and farmers face the unpleasant possibility of poor yields occasioned by unpredictable, changing farming seasons. Frightening? Maybe, but what is not in doubt is the urgent need for individuals, governments, and institutions at local and global levels to step up efforts at mitigating climate change and strengthening the adaptive capacity of life support systems.

In his movie about global warming, An Inconvenient Truth, former United States vice-president Al Gore emphasised that we all can make a difference in dealing with climate change. In fact, the main plank of this discourse is that you and I can and should adopt climate change adaptive lifestyles irrespective of our social status, occupational leanings, or educational levels. Whether at home, at school, in the office, or on the road we can take simple actions that will not only help the situation but put some money in our pockets as we do so.

At home, you can help change the world by simply replacing your conventional incandescent electric bulbs, which are highly inefficient with not less than 98 per cent of the energy input emitted as heat. Replacing them with compact fluorescent bulbs or, better still, light-emitting diodes bulbs will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save you money on energy bills. You should also check power ratings when buying new appliances for your home.

Using energy-efficient appliances helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. A simple step like regular cleaning of the air filters in air conditioners can increase comfort at home, save energy and reduce green house gas emissions. Better still, green power – generated from renewable energy sources such as wind and the sun – do not contribute to climate change. The prices of solar panels and wind turbines are gradually coming down, owing to advances in technologies.

Given the existing epileptic power situation in the country, green power will not only help in cutting costs associated with running standby power generating sets, but save us all from the all-pervasive environmental noise nuisance that is threatening our collective mental health.

At school, it is vital to explore the link between everyday actions and greenhouse gas emissions. This will help students learn about climate change and collaborate with their schools to address issues. When the opportunity presents itself, join a school climate club and explore all available resources to learn about climate change science, vulnerabilities, impacts, and adaptation measures.

Work with your school administrators to reduce your school’s carbon footprint - a measure of the greenhouse gases that are produced by activities of a person, a family, a school or a business. Participate in planting trees and flowers, as they do not only enhance the aesthetic quality of your learning environment, but act as carbon sinks. Schools, especially tertiary institutions, can do much more by stepping up efforts in climate change research with a view to guiding government in formulating specific policies to discourage unsustainable lifestyles.

In the office, we need to learn to manage office equipment energy use better. Every equipment consumes energy even when on stand-by mode. And to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions at work, always unplug power cords of equipment and turn off lights at the close of the day’s work. It has been established that turning off just one 60-watt incandescent bulb that would otherwise burn eight hours a day can save about 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide over the lifetime of the bulb.

Furthermore, procurement departments should look out for energy-efficient features when buying new office equipment and lighting fixtures. Beside these reactive measures, an anticipatory approach by way of good office building design could be the starting point for providing energy-efficient, healthy, and productive work environment.

On the road, your carbon footprint depends partly on the emissions and fuel economy of your vehicle type. Before buying a new or used vehicle, seek information about the fuel economy of different vehicles. Through good driving habits, you can improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by avoiding sudden bursts of speed and breaking in the very next instant. Go easy on the accelerator and build acceleration gradually.

When you load unnecessary items into your boot and leave them there during your daily commute, your car simply becomes a fuel-guzzler and you subject the atmosphere to avoidable increase in greenhouse gas concentrations. You can and should do more to mitigate the changing climate by following the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule for your car. Use the recommended grade of motor oil, check and replace your vehicle’s air and oil filters regularly, check and maintain correct tyre pressure, and having done all these, give your car a break.

Use public transportation to reduce your carbon footprint, save money and free up our roads of traffic congestion with the attendant waste of man-hours. A study has shown that leaving your car at home just two days a week will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 1,600 pounds per year!

While technology can play its part, the time has come for all to understand the nexus between climate change and changes in lifestyles. Let us share what we know and encourage our family members, friends, and everyone to live a green life. Recent political events in North Africa and the Middle East are clear pointers to this one incontrovertible statement: a change is in the offing when collective actions of individuals begin to gather momentum.

 

 

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Updated 7 Years ago
 

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