While coping with the heatwaves, we should act to reverse them
Teresa López, EKOenergy
July 2018 has been the hottest July ever registered in several areas of the northern hemisphere, bringing with it abnormal droughts, high wildfire risk and devastating sudden precipitation. The record temperatures of the past were beaten in the US, Canada, Japan and different countries of northern Europe – with even 10°C difference between the first three weeks of July 2018 and the long-term average for the same weeks (based on 1981-2010).
While many citizens, politicians and mainstream media are showing concern about the consequences this meteorological anomaly is having on public health, agriculture and animal welfare, not that many are joining the serious conversation about the reasons behind these ever-more-common heatwaves. Whether we like it or not, human behaviour is partly to blame, and we must face the consequences.
“2018 is shaping up to be one of the hottest years on record, with new temperature records in many countries. This is no surprise. The heatwaves and extreme heat we are experiencing are consistent with what we expect as a result of climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions. This is not a future scenario. It is happening now,” said WMO Deputy Secretary-General Elena Manaenkova.
There is a clear link between our intensive consumption of natural resources and our burning of fossil fuels, and the rise of the average Earth surface temperature in 2016 was almost 1°C higher than the 20th century average. This man-accelerated climate change is altering both terrestrial and marine habitats, having devastating consequences to the Earth’s flora and fauna, as well as creating millions of environmental migrants forced to flee their homes in search for security.
Daily changes we can all make
The good news is that as we created the problem, we can also take action to minimise the damage caused. While other blogs might give you tips on how to cope with the heat – keeping hydrated, staying off the sun in peak hours, avoiding alcohol and caffeine, etc. – at EKOenergy we offer long lasting advice: how to reduce your CO2 emissions.
- Use public transport, bike and walk as much as possible. Try to avoid planes when there are viable alternatives like trains and, if you need to drive a car, choose to car-share and drive an electric one if possible.
- Buy local. Freight transportation is one of the main causes of CO2 emissions, that is why buying -and eating- local can make a big difference. Pay attention to product labels next time you go shopping – you might be surprised how far some items have travelled even when they are also produced nearby.
- Reduce your meat intake. Animal agriculture is leading cause of methane emissions, so limiting the amount of meat in our diet is an easy way to reduce our carbon footprint.
- Avoid plastic consumption. Plastic is made of crude oil, which is derived from fossil fuels. Try to find sustainable alternatives to plastic goods and plastic-packaged goods and, when you can’t totally eliminate these materials, remember to reduce, reuse and properly recycle them.
- Support renewable energy and adopt energy efficient habits and appliances. Renewable energy by definition has low emissions. If you choose electricity from renewable sources for your house or business you will avoid burning fossil fuels. If you want to go a step further, you can buy renewable electricity that is EKOenergy labelled, so you support the promotion of sustainable energy and biodiversity worldwide as well as the fight against energy poverty.
Individual actions like these can have a long reach if we spread the need to take action. It is vital to educate others on how to be less harmful to the planet – and therefore to our own habitat. As a society we should stop turning a blind eye, acknowledge our responsibility behind the natural catastrophes and work together to reverse climate change.