Climate Change: How modern lifestyle is adding to rise in pollution and carbon emissions
The 45th World Environment Day observed on June 5, 2023, on the theme of preventing plastic pollution highlighted the continuous negative impact of global warming and climate change and that the world is in a climate emergency. If the goal to limit global temperature rise to below 2°C is not met then the consequences will be severe and may very well be irreversible.
Climate change can be a natural process where temperature, rainfall, wind, and other elements vary over decades or more. For millions of years, our world has been warmer and colder than it is now. But today we are experiencing unprecedented rapid warming from human activities, primarily due to burning fossil fuels that generate greenhouse gas emissions.
Human activities have warmed the atmosphere, ocean, and land, producing widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere, and biosphere. The Earth is now about 1.1°C warmer than it was in the 1800s. 2015-2019 were the five warmest years on record while 2010-2019 was the warmest decade on record.
“United in Science 2022” report says, “There is a 48% chance the annual mean global temperature will temporarily exceed 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels (1850-1900) for at least one of the next five years (2022–2026). Additionally, there is a 93% probability that at least one year in the next five will be warmer than the warmest year on record (2016).”
People’s daily lifestyle choices and activities play a significant role in contributing to climate change. Many everyday activities, such as transportation, energy consumption, and waste management, can generate greenhouse gases, carbon emissions and contribute to pollution, which is the main cause to climate change. Here are a few examples:
Transportation: The use of private vehicles, especially those running on fossil fuels like gasoline and diesel, contributes to air pollution and carbon emissions. Opting for public transportation, carpooling, cycling, or walking can help reduce emissions.
Energy consumption: Electricity generation from fossil fuel sources like coal and natural gas can result in significant carbon emissions. Conserving energy, using energy-efficient appliances, and transitioning to renewable energy sources like solar or wind power can reduce carbon footprints.
Waste management: Improper waste disposal, including burning waste, can release harmful pollutants into the air, soil, and water. Practicing responsible waste management, such as recycling, composting, and minimizing waste generation, can mitigate pollution.
Food choices: The production of certain foods, especially meat and dairy products, can have a higher carbon footprint due to factors like deforestation, methane emissions from livestock, and transportation. Opting for plant-based diets or reducing meat consumption can help lower carbon emissions associated with food production.
Consumer choices: The consumption of goods and services can contribute to pollution and emissions throughout their lifecycle, including production, transportation, and disposal. Considering sustainable and eco-friendly options, supporting environmentally conscious businesses, and reducing unnecessary consumption can make a positive impact.
While individual actions are crucial, addressing pollution and carbon emissions also requires systemic changes, such as transitioning to cleaner energy sources, implementing sustainable transportation systems, and adopting environmentally friendly policies and practices. Collective efforts at the individual, community, and societal levels are essential for mitigating the environmental impact of human activities.