Any major change in climate (such as temperature, rain, snow or wind) lasting for an extended period (decades or longer) is called Climate Change. The term is often used interchangeably with global warming, but climate change is a wider, all-encompassing phenomenon.
Climate change can occur because of natural reasons such as subtle changes in the sun’s intensity, Earth’s orbit, or ocean circulation. However, the biggest and fastest changes are happening because of human activities that are altering the atmosphere’s composition (e.g. through burning fossil fuels) and the land surface (e.g. deforestation, reforestation, urbanization, desertification, etc.).
According to scientific data, the Earth’s average surface temperature has risen by about 1.2 to 1.4ºF since the turn of the last century. The warmest global average temperatures have all been recorded within the past fifteen years. As the world warms, extreme weather conditions are becoming more frequent and severe, sea levels are rising, floods are ravaging whole cities, droughts are putting pressure on crops, forest fires are raging and many animal and plant species are being driven to extinction.
These are but the symptoms. The full consequences of climate change are far scarier and catastrophic. Worse, the scale and intensity of the problem are such that it is hard to imagine what we as individuals, or even one nation, can do on our own to slow or reverse climate change. However, rather than just wringing our hands and continuing on our self-destructing path, there are some personal lifestyle changes that we can make that can make a difference.
- Reduce your carbon footprint. Leave your car at home (walk, bike or take mass transit instead). If you have to use a car, try to make do with a fuel-efficient one, not a gas-guzzling SUV!
- Use energy-efficient appliance and gadgets as far as possible. Replace incandescent light bulbs with energy-saving fluorescent bulbs.
- Buy food and other products with reusable or recyclable packaging instead of those in non-recyclable packaging. Reduce the use of plastic packaging as much as possible.
- Control your unbridled use of water for mundane purposes such as washing clothes and utensils. Be wise and stingy where water is concerned!
- Recycle your home’s waste newsprint, cardboard, glass and metal. In fact, recycle anything that can be recycled!
- Plant trees like there’s no tomorrow! It is best to plant native, drought-resistant trees and shrubs around your home.
- Sooner or later, we will have to switch to clean, green energy sources such as solar, wind or hydro power. If your government is still not convinced, join a green movement, vote green and raise your tiny voice – together we can roar!
Act now! We are on the cusp of an apocalypse. There is everything to lose.