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If you’ve browsed a cur­rent affair web­site late­ly or picked up a news­pa­per, you are undoubt­ed­ly aware that cli­mate change is a pre­dom­i­nant top­ic of gov­ern­ments and soci­eties around the globe. It pre­oc­cu­pies many young peo­ple, too, who wor­ry that the plan­et they are inher­it­ing has been irrepara­bly dam­aged by the gen­er­a­tions who came before them.  Young peo­ple like activist Gre­ta Thun­berg have made it the focus of their demon­stra­tions against gov­ern­ments and inter­na­tion­al bod­ies like the Unit­ed Nations. They believe, with good rea­son, that cli­mate change is the cen­tral pre­oc­cu­pa­tion of their lives and that atten­tion to it must be paid. Have you ever won­dered pre­cise­ly what cli­mate change is, how it hap­pened (and con­tin­ues to) and what we can do about it? Par­tic­u­lar­ly if you’re the par­ent of young chil­dren, who now learn about cli­mate change in school, the top­ic may well be pre­oc­cu­py­ing you, too. In this arti­cle, we give you a brief def­i­n­i­tion, but more impor­tant­ly, we offer ways in which you and your fam­i­ly (and place of work) can help in the fight against cli­mate change.

A Brief Overview Of Climate Change:

Since the 1950s, sci­en­tists have had a grow­ing aware­ness that our plan­et is warm­ing and are increas­ing­ly knowl­edge­able about humankind’s role in that process. Human activ­i­ty is, experts say, large­ly respon­si­ble for the dele­te­ri­ous effects on the ozone lay­er that trapped gasses impose, like methane and car­bon dioxide. You’ve like­ly heard the term Green House Gas Emis­sions (GHGE). That’s the kind of thing the term refers to – fumes from cars and burps from cows. Since the Indus­tri­al Rev­o­lu­tion, the lev­el of car­bon diox­ide in the atmos­phere has risen by almost 50 percent. This caus­es the plan­et to warm, which in turn caus­es the seas and oceans to warm and glac­i­ers to melt. Dras­tic weath­er changes are part of cli­mate change – more hur­ri­canes, more tsunamis, more heatwaves. As the plan­et warms and these neg­a­tive occur­rences hap­pen more fre­quent­ly, there is a domi­no effect on every­thing from land­scapes to ani­mals, many of which can­not live in a lim­it­ed or dam­aged terrain. Polar bears are a typ­i­cal exam­ple of a species in decline from cli­mate change: their ter­ri­to­ries no longer com­plete­ly freeze in the far North, mean­ing they can­not trav­el over their usu­al range to hunt. Many have died of star­va­tion or lack the body mass need­ed to repro­duce because they can­not find food, and the species is at real risk of extinc­tion. That is only one exam­ple of what cli­mate change is doing to the ani­mal king­dom – there are many more!

How We Contribute To It?

climate change definition l what causes climate change l effects climate change Every time we turn on an air con­di­tion­er or start our cars, we’re putting gasses into the atmos­phere that con­tribute to cli­mate change. We don’t say that to induce guilt! Only to point out that even when we are unaware of our role in glob­al warm­ing and cli­mate change, we do things that wors­en the sit­u­a­tion. That’s why our chil­dren so often won­der why we did­n’t take bet­ter care of Moth­er Earth before the sit­u­a­tion became so dire. In fair­ness, how­ev­er, for more than a cen­tu­ry, no one knew what all those fumes emit­ting from coal-pow­ered trains, for exam­ple, were doing to the air. Then came the auto­mo­bile and planes, and sci­en­tists still did­n’t grasp their impact. But by the time the boomer gen­er­a­tion was born, after World War II, sci­en­tists under­stood that we were dam­ag­ing the ozone at an alarm­ing rate, and some­thing had to change.

What Can We Do?

Even though the prob­lem of cli­mate change feels over­whelm­ing and makes some peo­ple feel that it’s hope­less and that they can­not make a dif­fer­ence as an indi­vid­ual, indeed every­one can help in the fight. Every deci­sion we make, whether it’s at home or the office, can have a pos­i­tive impact. Here, we offer some ways in which the small choic­es you make every day will ulti­mate­ly have a big pos­i­tive effect.

1- No More Paper or Styrofoam Takeout Containers

Do you get a cof­fee on the way to work every day? Instead of get­ting a dis­pos­able cup, buy a per­ma­nent ther­mos you can refill. If it sounds like a minor thing, well, that’s because it is! But think of how many paper or plas­tic cups won’t go into land­fills or recy­cling because of that deci­sion – hun­dreds every year, for you, your fam­i­ly and (if you ask them) your employ­ees or co-work­ers. This one change alone saves sin­gle-fam­i­ly hun­dreds of pounds of waste annually.

2- Buy Durable Clothing – not “Fast Fashion.”

Believe it or not, most donat­ed sec­ond-hand cloth­ing ends up in land­fills – as much as 90 per­cent, in some loca­tions. But if you buy nat­ur­al, organ­ic fab­ric (silk, cot­ton), it helps in two ways: they are stur­dy and durable and there­fore last longer than syn­thet­ics. And if they do end up in land­fills, they are biodegrad­able and don’t harm the land. Choose clas­sic styles for most of your wardrobe, so pieces don’t go out of fash­ion, and when­ev­er you tire of some­thing, pass it on, don’t just dis­pose of it.

3- Go Electric For Your Next Vehicle, If you Haven’t Already!

Car man­u­fac­tur­ers pre­dict that gaso­line-pow­ered vehi­cles will be a thing of the past by 2035, maybe even 2030, in some coun­tries. This is a great way to low­er your fam­i­ly’s car­bon footprint! As charg­ing sta­tions become ever more com­mon­place, and bat­ter­ies are able to take a car as far as 400 or 500 kilo­me­tres, very soon, there will be no rea­son to hang on to a gas engine. Elec­tric auto­mo­biles are com­ing down in price, too – anoth­er great rea­son to invest in this green­er mode of transportation!

4- Listen To Your Children and Eat Less Meat

climate change definition l what causes climate change l effects climate change Many teenagers are already on board with going veg­e­tar­i­an or veg­an because they under­stand how big an impact cat­tle and chick­ens have on the plan­et and the cli­mate. But we know that grilling a steak is a favourite sum­mer rit­u­al for many peo­ple, par­tic­u­lar­ly on big hol­i­days, like the Fourth of July in Amer­i­ca and Cana­da Day on July 1st. And no one is sug­gest­ing you pack away the bar­be­cue, only that you use it for plant-based replace­ment meals, like burg­ers and sausages that look, taste and grill just like red meat. Domes­tic ani­mals are a huge pro­duc­er of methane, to say noth­ing of the land that’s need­ed to raise them. Mas­sive tracks of the Ama­zon jun­gle are being razed to make way for cows, and the dam­age to the envi­ron­ment is enor­mous. How­ev­er, until demand for red meat prod­ucts begins to ebb, there is lit­tle moti­va­tion for farm­ers to look to oth­er ways of using their land. So if one (or all) of your chil­dren have giv­en up meat, make it a fam­i­ly affair and explore all the won­der­ful dietary options out there for vegetarians.

5- Rethink All That Air Travel

If any­thing good can be said to have come out of the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic, it’s that we have all re-thought our approach to work and trav­el. Busi­ness trips have been post­poned or can­celled, and so have fam­i­ly vaca­tions that involved flights to oth­er countries. Video con­fer­enc­ing is less expen­sive for com­pa­nies, less tax­ing for all involved, and a health­i­er way to con­nect with col­leagues around the globe. We aren’t sug­gest­ing that all vaca­tions to dis­tant shores should be elim­i­nat­ed – many coun­tries depend on tourism as a vital part of their econ­o­my. How­ev­er, every time we board a plane, we con­tribute to cli­mate change, so tak­ing one or two few­er trips each year (when bor­ders are open again) pro­found­ly reduces you and your fam­i­ly’s car­bon footprint.

6- Educate Yourself About Climate Change

If solv­ing a prob­lem first begins with under­stand­ing it, that is the biggest con­tri­bu­tion all of us can make as cit­i­zens of the world. Find out what mea­sures your local gov­ern­ment rec­om­mends you take. They may sug­gest that just turn­ing off lights when leav­ing a room saves 10 per­cent of your month­ly ener­gy con­sump­tion. Or they may say that hav­ing the fur­nace main­tained every year is a great way to save on heat­ing costs. What­ev­er offi­cials offer by way of infor­ma­tive tips in your region, take them to heart and imple­ment them in your home and workplace. Experts warn that, with­out dras­tic improve­ments in human behav­iour, cli­mate change will become irre­versible by 2060, per­haps soon­er. It sounds like a dire warn­ing, but it is one we must heed if we want to pass on a sus­tain­able world to our chil­dren and grand­chil­dren, a world that is more than mere­ly livable.

Last but not least!

We all want them to inher­it a won­der­ful plan­et, one that is teem­ing with life, green­ery, ani­mals of every species, and clean, fresh air. We can only ensure that if we pay atten­tion to the experts, learn about cli­mate change, and under­stand every­one’s role in reduc­ing it.

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