Climate change also known as global warming is a worldwide natural phenomenon that has threatened the existence of many plant and animal species as well as the human race. Because of the significant amount of greenhouses trapped within the earth’s atmosphere, the planet is on the verge of having erratic and unpredictable climate patterns. For the last decade, the world has witnessed the initial effects of climate change particularly during the Hurricane Katrina tragedy and the intensified drought in Africa.
According to the “Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change” (IPCC), in the future, the likelihood of experiencing worse conditions of flood, drought and “other forms of extreme weather” will be rampant. Eventually, this will only lead to more loss of life and the destruction of the biosphere (United Nations Environment Programme). The common green house gas that is emitted into the atmosphere is carbon dioxide (CO2) which is being produced at an alarming rate.
During the industrial revolution, the CO2 emission was measured at 280 parts per million (ppm) but now in the modern age, the level of CO2 has reached 390 ppm and it is continuously increasing by 1. 5 to 2 ppm every year. Based on the research conducted by environmental experts, the temperature in the earth’s atmosphere should only be at 2 degrees Celsius in order for all life forms to tolerate the warmth or coldness of the atmosphere. Also, scientists disclosed that there is a “50 per cent chance of keeping to 2°C if the total GHG concentration remains below 450 ppm” (United Nations Environment Programme).
Given these data, it has been evident that the production of green house gases had greatly affected the dynamics of the environment. As a result, a set of related problems have surfaced such as amplified carbon emissions, dependence on fossil fuels and use of excessive natural raw materials and energy for infrastructures. In the contemporary world, fossil fuels have been considered as one of the essential elements needed to live a comfortable modern life. In its basic form, fossil fuels are not damaging but the moment they are burned that is the only time they become harmful because they produce carbon dioxide.
More so, the quantity of CO2 yielded would depend on the fuel’s carbon content. For the production of a “unit of energy,” more or less ? of CO2 is generated from coal. According to the statistics, “fossil fuels supply 85%of the primary energy consumed in the United States and are responsible for 98% of emissions of carbon dioxide. ” More so, a startling figure of 80% has been attributed to the “carbon dioxide emissions” of many Americans which is credited to the utilization of “coal and petroleum fuels.
” Though the industrial sector is the biggest consumer of energy, it is not the highest producer of CO2 emission. Because of the dependence of the transportation segment in petroleum, it has become the number one emitter of CO2 (Energy Information Administration). Also, the commercial and residential sectors contribute to the energy consumption by being too reliant on electricity produced by fossil fuels. Given this circumstance, the US government had signed the Kyoto Protocol which is intended to dramatically lessen carbon emissions across the globe.
However, the US withdrew from its commitment and since then its CO2 production had risen to “more than 15% above 1990 levels. ” More so, former President Bush disclosed in 2001 that the US government would not ratify the Kyoto Protocol because it would only result to a financial crisis and other countries particularly the developing ones were not compelled to reduce their CO2 production. Furthermore, he mentioned that CO2 reduction would be more possible if it is done in a voluntary manner and “through the development of cleaner technologies” (BBC).
Since little efforts have been implemented to stop the emission of CO2 and to break the dependence towards fossil fuels, the natural resources are rapidly depleting and the earth’s temperature is continuously rising. However, there is still hope for this worsening environmental situation. Many alternative methods and products that can be utilized in order to mitigate the effects and eventually stop climate change. There are three potential policies that can be implemented by every government or institutions in the world which are the following: (1) Transportation conservation; (2) Use of Biofuel; and (3) Building Efficiency.
These policies can significantly address the issues concerning climate change if it will be solidly implemented by concerned organizations or government agencies and strongly supported by the public. Transportation conservation is a process that involves the act of minimizing the use of gas-powered vehicles that emit the harmful carbon gases. The policy concerning transportation conservation can be implemented in the community or national level in order to feel its utmost impact to people’s daily living and even in the environment. There are many ways on how to make this policy work.
The promotion for the use mass public transit would be an initiative that will lessen the consumption of fuel gas thus carbon emissions. Based on statistics, there over 65% of the population drive alone, only 20% practices carpool, “5% walk, 3% work at home” and a shocking 7% uses the public transit system specifically in the states of Chicago and New York. Through this, an ordinary individual can save up an average of 700 gallons of gas annually which costs $1000 to $2000 (University of Oregon). Second, in order to minimize travel, people can opt to work at home (telecommuting) or close to their home.
By adapting this lifestyle, people would be less dependent on the use of cars or any type of vehicles. More so, people can opt to walk or use a bike or any vehicle that does not require gas in order to go from point A to point B. Once this is implemented and carried out by thousands of people, it is definite that there will be a significant decline in the earth’s temperature. It has done before during World War II and is surely possible and doable in the modern era. Another solution would be to remove the dependence to fossil fuel gas. It is not easy to disregard the conveniences that people have grown into.
But by seeking alternative ways to power the people’s vehicles, the earth’s atmosphere can still be salvage. Biofuel is a renewable energy that is harvested from renewable sources including biomass such as wheat and corn. Unlike fossil fuels, these natural resources can easily be produced in an environmentally-friendly way. The many benefits of using biofuel are “energy security, reduce greenhouse gas and pollutant emissions, improve vehicle performance, enhance rural economic development and, under the right circumstances, protect ecosystems and soils” (International Energy Agency 11).
If biofuel will be imposed as the perfect alternative to gas, it will make a huge difference in resolving climate change. On the other hand, the consumption of energy of infrastructure also contributes in the increase of the releases of CO2. Usually, buildings in the US use up to 40% of energy and 70% electricity. Government and non-governmental organizations have started to campaign for the construction of green or smart buildings. This type of infrastructure focuses on the optimal use of the natural resources and energy for a “large-scale avoidance of greenhouse gas emissions and reduction in U. S. demand for fossil fuels” (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).
To be able to build energy efficient infrastructures, certain green standards must be established. But first, owners of existing commercial buildings must be persuaded to modify their buildings to become energy efficient which will help them save more money and more profits (Klustner). Among the three mentioned potential policies on climate change, transportation conservation is the best and practical way to alleviate the effects of global warming. It is an easy and simple method that everyone can follow.
However, in order for this policy to work, public support and implementation sustainability must be guaranteed. Works Cited “Biofuels for Transport: An International Perspective. ” 2004. International Energy Agency. 23 March 2009 <http://www. iea. org/textbase/nppdf/free/2004/biofuels2004. pdf> “Building efficiency technologies. ” 2009. Massachusetts Institute of Technology <http://web. mit. edu/mitei/research/innovations/efficiency. html> “Climate change: The big emitters. ” 4 July 2005. BBC. 23 March 2009 <http://news. bbc. co. uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3143798. st> “Greenhouse Gases, Climate Change, and Energy. ” May 2008.
Energy Information Administration. 23 March 2009 <http://www. eia. doe. gov/bookshelf/brochures/greenhouse/Chapter1. htm> Klustner, Kevin. “The Six Degrees of Building Efficiency. ” 5 September 2007. Greenerbuildings. com. 23 March 2009 <http://www. greenerbuildings. com/feature/2007/09/05/the-six-degrees-building-efficiency> “Saving energy in the Transportation Sector. ” 1999. University of Oregon. 23 March 2009 <http://zebu. uoregon. edu/1999/ph161/l24. html> “What is Climate Change?. ” N. d. United Nations Environment Programme. 23 March 2009 <http://www. unep. org/themes/climatechange/whatis/index. asp>