Disney Pixar’s Wall-E, and more recently, Paramount’s Interstellar, show a future in which mankind no longer has an Earth to call home. Years ago, a prospect like this might have seemed far-fetched. However, scientific studies have shown that if the human race doesn’t curb its emissions of greenhouse gases, not too long from now we will find ourselves in a planet that doesn’t support life as we know it. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the global temperature is expected to at least double in the next century. This makes the need to take measures on how to prevent global warming very urgent. Also, predictions show an increase in temperature of 1.5ºC above today’s values if mankind drastically lowers its greenhouse emissions. This increment would be of 6ºC if we carry on with a business-as-usual mindset.
A warming of this scale could potentially erase mankind and other lifeforms off the face of Earth, because of the warming itself or its aftermath. For example, if emissions continue on their current trend, sea levels could rise up to 6 meters in the future and 0.94 meters by the end of this century. This would place coastal cities worldwide under an emerging flooding crisis and at risk for storm damage (Scientific American, 2015)
It is worth noting that the efforts made towards curbing global warming are focused on stabilizing the current CO2 levels in the atmosphere so they stay at current levels in the future. This is not only a task for politicians and scientists, every person can contribute by leading a sustainable, responsible lifestyle. Keep reading for some tips on how to prevent global warming in the future:
HOW TO PREVENT GLOBAL WARMING: AT-HOME TIPS
- Change your lightbulbs. If you’re using incandescent light bulbs, it’s time to change to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL). They use at least two thirds less energy than incandescent ones, which helps reduce the power requirements of power plants and therefore, their greenhouse gas emissions. This is very cost effective, as not only will you be spending less on electricity bills, but also on lightbulbs. CFLs last at least 10 times more than incandescent light bulbs.
- Buy energy-efficient appliances. Most of energy-efficient appliances are found in the kitchen area. However, if they are out of your budget or you don’t want to replace the ones you have because they are still in good shape, feel free to check this post on how to save energy while cooking, which is the most energy-consuming at-home activity,
- Go solar. While still a bit difficult to do, in many countries around the world, governments are giving discounts as incentives to install solar panels in your house. Check if your country is one of them!
- Reduce, reuse, and recycle. Reduce your need to buy new products, or use less, always opting for eco-friendly versions if at all possible. Reuse plastic bottles, containers and other “disposable” things you have sitting around the house. This will contribute to reducing the need you have to purchase other products that would serve the same purpose. Recycle things you won’t use anymore and upcycle those who served its original purpose but can be used in other things. These three steps lower your contribution to landfills and thus, your carbon footprint.
- Install a programmable thermostat: This device will allow you to save energy. Try to lower the temperature in your household by 2ºC during summer and increase it by 2ºC during winter. Try to keep the temperature in that range, and if you’re feeling chilly, try putting on more layers, rather than making your house a burning furnace.
- Insulate your home. This can reduce the energy requirements for cooling and heating by 20% and significantly enhance home comfort.
- Limit your use of hot water.
- Move your freezer and refrigerator. If you keep them near the cooking stove, the heat released by it will make the energy requirements of your cooling devices go up, which causes an increase in greenhouse gas emissions. It is also important to defrost your cooling devices periodically to ensure maximum efficiency.
- Plant a tree. This is a great tip on how to prevent global warming. Trees absorb CO2, one of the most abundant greenhouse gases. They also provide shade, which can be helpful during summer because it reduces your cooling requirements.
- Replace the filters of your air conditioner and furnace. Dirty filters cause your devices to require more energy to do their job. Also, the dirt is released into the air when the air conditioner or furnace is working, making you breathe in dirty air.
- Save water. While a useful tip on how to prevent global warming, it is also helpful in conservation in general. Close the tap when you’re brushing your teeth and choose 5-minute showers instead of baths, as the latter use up 25% more water. Moreover, fix any leaking faucet and don’t let the hose flood your garden. Drawing and filtering water requires energy and the production of this energy releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. If you use up less energy, you’re releasing less greenhouse gases.
- Be green in your yard. Compost in your yard instead of sending your waste to landfills, where it gets burned. If at all possible, evaluate the possibility of growing your own crops organically, which is a great tip on how to prevent global warming, sustainability and improving your health.
- Go green. Here are 40 tips on going green from Conserve Energy Future
- Get a home energy audit.
HOW TO PREVENT GLOBAL WARMING: OUT OF HOME
- Stop idling your car. This is very important regarding how to prevent global warming. If you’re not going to be moving it, don’t run its engine. The combustion process is still taking place and greenhouse gases are still being released into the atmosphere.
- Use less energy in your commute. Nowadays, there are carpool lanes in busy cities. If yours is not among them, find a coworker or classmate who lives near you or along your route to work and pick them up! Other options, like telecommuting, public transportation and biking are also worth considering.
- Buy smart. If you’re renting or buying a vehicle, always look for the cleanest, most fuel-efficient option. Here’s EPA’s guide on green cars.
- Drive less. Another great advice on how to prevent global warming and improve your health. If you’re covering a short route or just moving for leisure, try to cycle instead of driving.
- Encourage your organization to develop a greenhouse gas inventory. This is key in measuring and managing your organization’s climate change impact, as well as in how to prevent global warming on a larger scale. An inventory is a way to identify the sources of greenhouse gas emissions in your organization and how much they contribute to its carbon footprint. EPA’s Center for Corporate Climate and Leadership is “a resource center to help all organizations identify and achieve cost-effective GHG emission reductions.” (EPA, W/D).
HOW TO PREVENT GLOBAL WARMING: AT LARGE
Source: Union of Concerned Scientists
While individual efforts to lower greenhouse emissions are necessary and can have a significant impact on stopping future global warming, the bulk of the duty is on countries and international companies. The key factor on how to prevent global warming in the future is developing sustainability policies as soon as possible, because the measures taken today will have an immediate effect on prospected change. At-large measures that can be taken on how to prevent global warming include:
- Expand the use of renewable energy and transform the energy system to become less dependent on fossil fuels.
- Demand an increase on vehicle fuel-efficiency.
- Place limits on the amount of allowed pollution.
- Build a clean energy economy, by lowering disbursements in the coal and oil industry and investing in efficient energy technologies and policies.
- Reduce tropical deforestation.
- Effective international climate negotiations.
- Building support for national climate policies.
HOW TO PREVENT GLOBAL WARMING: BIOMIMICRY
Biomimicry is “an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies” (Biomimicry Institute, W/D). It seeks to understand and incorporate the inner workings of natural structures and processes into current-day engineering, with the purpose of creating new ways of living that are well-adapted to life on earth on the long run.
When looking for pathways on how to prevent global warming, it should be intuitive to turn to nature for the answer. After all, and as said by Janine Benyus, a pioneer in the biomimicry movement “When we look at what is truly sustainable, the only real model that has worked over long periods of time is the natural world.”
EXAMPLES OF BIOMIMICRY:
- The Eastgate Building, an office building in Harare, Zimbabwe has an internal temperature control system inspired on termite mounds.
- The Land Institute has been trying to introduce the use of natural prairies in modern agriculture models. In this method, using deep-rooted or perennial plants that can survive year by year, not only results in yields equivalent to those obtained at present, but also improves the conditions of water and soil.
- The bumps on the humpback’s whale fins have been the inspiration behind modern wind turbines, which increases their efficiency. The use of this technology on planes, fans, etc. also makes them safer.
The list goes on, and you can learn more about biomimicry and its uses on how to prevent global warming by clicking this link