Earth provides us with many resources to accommodate our needs like food, oil/gas, minerals, and so much more. The problem that all countries seem to face is atmospheric pollution, such as global warming. Global warming is a big priority when it comes to pollution in modern society. In this paper I will bring to your attention the problems we face with global warming, which nonliving/living factors contribute to or are affected by the problem, the effects it has on humans, our current sustainability strategy, my sustainability plan, benefit and challenges of the plan, and required government, societal, and global support. The problem with global warming is that when CO2 and other heat-trapping emissions are released into the air, they act like a blanket, holding heat in our atmosphere and warming the planet. Overloading our atmosphere with carbon has far-reaching effects for people all around the world, including rising sea levels, increasing wildfires, more extreme weather, deadly heat waves, and more severe droughts (“Global Warming”, 2013).
Human activity is the biggest contributor to global warming, for example when we use fossil fuel we are releasing CO2 into the air from our vehicles and when we use it to generate electricity, CO2 can also be released when we cause deforestation. According to Gale (2013), “Crowded landfills, polluted water, and poor air quality are just a few of the environmental problems that affect both industrial and developing nations. Perhaps less obvious but no less ominous a threat to the environment is the general increase in temperatures worldwide and the resulting climate changes. This phenomenon, known as global warming, could have serious negative effects on humans and all other living things on Earth. Global warming is a complex problem, and governments have had great difficulty deciding how to address it.”
First of all, we need to realize that the biggest contributor to global warming is our everyday activities. Whether it be driving a vehicle, operating plants, deforestation, and so forth. According to “Atmospheric Pollution: Global Warming and a Possible Use of Bio-Fuels in a Wide Scale,” “Global warming is causing climate changes -, producing significant consequences to human society and biodiversity, such as the poles melting, with the increasing of oceans level, increasing intensity of hurricanes, extreme events, changes in rainfall patterns (floods, desertification), oceans acidification and biodiversity decreasing - .
Therefore, it can cause monumental damage to the economic system, as described in the Stern report . For example in the 1999’s to 2000 some areas in the United States experienced record breaking heat temperatures, at the beginning of this year Australia endured a heat wave that caused hundreds of fires. Most importantly here in the U.S. our society had to suffer from loss as well because of Hurricane Katrina, people were displaced from homes and it caused billions of dollars in damages. When catastrophic events like this occur, people aren’t the only ones affected. Animal life is as well, because their habitats are destroyed. As you can see everything is affected by global warming. The positive and negative impact global warming has on the human race can change from one year to the next depending on how much CO2 we are emitting into the atmosphere. As of now we are emitting high levels of pollutants into the air.
According to “Impacts of Climate Change” (2013), “Recent studies of how climate change might affect human health expanded particularly swiftly in the 1990s, catching the attention not only of experts but the public. Here as in some other categories, the work was increasingly supervised not by a particular government but by international organizations, from the venerable World Health Organization to the new International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, established 1988). Yet here as in some other categories, it was becoming clear that global generalizations were of little value compared with studies at a regional level. For example, insect vectors of tropical diseases like dengue fever and malaria (which already affected half a billion people) would expand their ranges. The main impacts would be felt in developing nations, but people in the developed world tended to worry chiefly about how such diseases might spread to the temperate zones.” The only positive effects I see occurring are regions that are known for having cold climates like Canada, would eventually have warmer weather.
However, I truly feel that positive and negative effects play hand in hand. One region in the world will have great weather, and another will be really damaging. In order to have a balance there needs to be sustainability. At this very moment there are thousands of cities in the U.S. that have established different programs or projects to help reduce global warming issues like greenhouse gases. “Cities are approaching sustainable planning in a variety of ways. Some are preparing a separate sustainability plan as a guiding document for community-wide action. Others are adopting climate action plans that focus on strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy conservation and other activities. Still others are incorporating the concept of sustainability in their comprehensive plans, either by adding an element to an existing plan or by making sustainability the overarching theme for a complete revamping of their plan (“Embracing Sustainability In Community Plans”, 2010)”.
For example, in some communities here in the state I live in are encouraging people to recycle glass, cardboard, and plastic. While other communities or newly built subdivisions are pushing people towards energy conservation like getting energy efficient appliances. Most contractors here are actually selling homes that are furnished with energy efficient appliances, to promote energy conservation. Bike paths are being designated in towns where people can travel from their home to parks or grocery stores. If we all contribute to being a part of anyone of these projects, its outcome may be rewarding to not only us, but also our environment. As far as my plan goes to sustain the amount of greenhouse gases, is to start within my own home before I try to encourage the community to follow my plan. There are several ways I could reduce the amount of emission my family and I contribute to. We could be more energy efficient by updating our home like putting new windows in, upgrading our appliances, our heating and cooling system, and our lighting throughout the home.
Once I have completely updated our home, I plan to track how much money I saved in six months and compare it to the last six months prior to renovations. The purpose of doing this will help me encourage others to go green in their homes. Secondly, I need to consider riding a bike to work or to the park when permitted by the weather. This activity however, I would like to encourage friends and neighbors to have a bike day once a week during summer to convince them that there are healthier ways to protect our environment and our health. The third project I would like to do is encourage my husband and his fellow coworkers to carpool to work, instead of taking separate vehicles. By using one vehicle they will be reducing the amount of greenhouse gases into the air versus the amount of emission five cars will give off. Lastly, I would like to start a recycling program for waste product that can be recyclable like cardboard, plastic, aluminum, and glass. I would like to get the whole town involved in this. There is a town that is close to mine that contract’s through a garbage company that gives incentives to their customers who recycle. They give the customer two garbage cans one for waste and the other for recyclable material.
For those who recycle, receive a discount off their utility bill. This is a project that I would sincerely commit to accomplishing, because everyone wins in this. The environment, the discounts we get, and the garbage company. However, with plans there will always be challenges and barriers that I will need to overcome like the recycling project. I would have to talk to the city, the local garbage company, and possibly even higher authority to come up with a plan that will work for everyone. This is a process that will take a long time to accomplish. Going green in my home will be challenging because projects like this don’t happen all at one day. Another challenge is not everyone in the community will always have a bike. In this case, I could possibly do one week as bicycle day and another as a walkathon. Although there may be challenges that I may face the benefits to this would be much greater in the end, because it will motivate others, money will be saved, and the environment will look healthier. In order to achieve a goal as important as this one, we would need to have everyone on board such as our government, city officials, businesses, and the residence in the community. It only takes a few voices to be heard, but I would also find a research program locally or globally to help encourage those that need the encouragement on how badly greenhouse gases are affecting our world and local environments.
Once our voices are publicly heard it will promote our sustainability project, and people maybe open minded to the idea. Given all these points on how greenhouse gases effect the environment, how do you currently feel about the issue? Because in all honesty, there was a time when I did not even have a clue on how greenhouse gases drastically effected the environment nor did I plan on reading about it. We need to keep in mind that what we do today is going to affect us tomorrow, three years from now, and pushing forward into the future. We know that greenhouse gases is a problem, everyone /everything contributes to and is affected by it, the positive and negative effects, current sustainability strategies, my sustainability plan, the benefits/challenges, and lastly the support that is needed to achieve a sustainable program.
Global Warming. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/global_warming_101/ Sthel, M. S., Tavares, J. R., Lima, G. R., Mothé, G. G., Schramm, D. S., Da Silva, M. G., & Castro, M. P. (2009). Atmospheric Pollution: Global Warming and a Possible Use of Bio-Fuels in a Wide Scale. International Review Of Chemical Engineering – Rapid Communications, 1(6), 564-570. “Global Warming.” Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection. Detroit: Gale, 2013. Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 12 Oct. 2013. Embracing Sustainability in Community Plans. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.clarionassociates.com/pdfs/herman-sustainability-community.pdf