This summer, many people who were once a part of the overpopulated beach crowd eventually took to indoor activities, ones with cooling refreshments and blasting air conditioners.
This might sound like a scene out of a horror movie from the ’70s, but in reality it describes what is happening to the planet.
This is global warming and this is only the beginning.
Scientists all around the world expect that global warming is coming at a fast pace and there may be more at stake than previously thought.
“There won’t be a way to halt the global climate change for decades to come, but we can try to dramatically reduce future impacts on our future generations,” said Maria Markoudakis, Association of Environmental Professionals president and environmental management and protection senior.
“The world needs to realize we need to change our most basic methods of life into sustainable methods and there is hope.”
If preventative tactics don’t start soon, the world could begin to see the extinction of certain plants and animals due to the fact that they are incapable of moving to new homes.
There will be extreme storms and floods, the sea level will rise so high that people will be forced to move away from the coasts and other areas will become too dry to help support farming.
So what can the average person do to help save the planet from this destruction? The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) suggests people give their habits and lifestyles a complete makeover. The adoption of this more responsible lifestyle can start with small, everyday tasks.
Every rusty pick-up truck putting along the highway is far more dangerous than it seems. Harmful chemicals from exhaust fumes will eventually make their way up into the atmosphere, where they will remain eternally.
According to the Environmental Defense Organization, 239 million cars and light trucks are on American roadways today. Even so, 2.7 trillion miles were traveled in the United States in 2006 alone.
StopGlobalWarming.org encourages people to reduce the number of miles they drive by walking, biking, carpooling or even taking mass transit wherever possible. Avoiding just 10 miles of driving every week would eliminate about 500 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per year.
Chrysler, General Motors and Ford are the Big Three Companies that have joined United States Climate Action Partership, a coalition calling for a U.S. national cap on global warming emissions. The companies have all become dedicated to creating vehicles that are more environmentally aware and “healthier” for the Earth.
“Investing in a hybrid will not only give you four times the gas mileage in the city more than your regular car can give you, but it is also protecting the environment,” said Robert Kelly from the Future Ford Dealership in Roseville, Calif.
According to the Environmental Defense Organization, one person who switches to a car that gets three miles more to the gallon could prevent 3,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from escaping into the atmosphere every year.
For those without the ability to indulge in a costly hybrid car, there are still many ways to get active and leave the gas-guzzlers behind.
If every household in America exchanged three standard light bulbs with three energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), it would be the equivalent of taking 3.5 million cars off the road.
The ACEEE also recommends installing a programmable thermostat to automatically lower the heat or air conditioning at night and raise them again in the morning. These thermostats can save $100 a year on energy bills.
Almost half of the energy used in homes goes to heating and cooling. About 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide could be saved per year by moving thermostats down two degrees in the winter and up two degrees in the summer.
Even tiny chores such as cleaning or replacing filters on furnaces and air conditioners can be enough to make a change. Cleaning dirty air filters can save 350 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.
Another way to help, according to StopGlobalWarming.org, is by going out and planting a tree. A single tree will absorb one ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime. Shade provided by trees can also reduce air conditioning bills by 10 to 15 percent.
“If we can reduce deforestation and the conversion of farmlands, we will help the global climate change,” Markoudakis said. “Also buying organic food products from local growers, thus reducing transportation, packing and more dependence on fossil fuels.”
The average meal in the United States travels 1,200 miles from the farm to the plate. Buying locally will save fuel and keep money in the community. Taking the time to grow one’s own food isn’t a bad idea, either.
To review, here are the little things with the potential to make big differences, especially as a student: buy from local growers, ride a bike, walk or take the bus to school, avoid printing excess amounts of paper, become an avid recycler or simply just volunteer within the community.
“I’ve noticed a lot of progress and people have taken notice and are doing what they can,” Markoudakis said. “For the most part, people are blinded to the fact that they have the potential to do little things to help, which can end up influencing those around them.”
The big picture
America was ranked as the top global warming polluter in the world by the Environmental Defense Organization. An 80 percent decrease in U.S. pollution is required by 2050 to prevent the worst consequences of global warming.
However, despite the 358 United States mayors who have signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement pledging to meet or beat Kyoto goals in their communities, no federal bills have been passed to help cap America’s global warming pollution.
President Bush mentioned “climate change” or “global warming” only once in his previous six State of the Union speeches.
Markoudakis says people need to start implementing a smart growth development within cities to reduce urban sprawl. The limitation of fossil fuels within industries and the reduction of emissions can be a big help.
Reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil and focusing on renewable energy sources such as photovoltaics and wind power are just a start, and exercising the right to vote can be a big step in the right direction.
“Everyone’s voice should be heard, and voting for the right political representative who sees, acknowledges and intends to act on our global crises is another important aspect everyone should be involved with,” Markoudakis said.