Did you know today is Earth Day? I wish I did not have to ask this question. A day on which people take action against environmental issues should be far more important. Not only deserves our planet its own day, it is also necessary. Here is why: climate change is real, it is probably caused by humans and proceeds at a very high rate. Without doubt you have heard about the consequences: higher temperatures, rise of the sea level, melting of sea ice and glaciers, and more extreme weather. But these consequences are not only something for the future. They are happening right now. On photos you can actually see how a lot of glaciers have melted in the last hundred years.
One of the most important actions taken against climate change was the conference held in Paris last December. 195 countries adopted an international climate agreement. Today most of these countries will be represented in New York to sign the Paris Agreement. One of the key goals is to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius between now and 2100. This goal can only be reached if all countries work together, and every one of them will significantly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
For a long time I asked myself: What difference will make a reduction of my own greenhouse gas emissions? Of course I cannot limit global warming on my own. But I believe every individual can make a difference. By making a change, you can be an inspiration for other people to make the same change, who in their turn can inspire more people. I think it was Mahatma Gandhi who said:
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
Here are some things you can do to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions:
- Eat less meat and dairy products. Livestock is responsible for half of all human-related emissions. Cows produce methane that is far more destructive than carbon dioxide. Furthermore, for the land that is necessary to cultivate animal food, thousands of acres of rain forests are destroyed. If everyone would have only one meatless day per week in the United States, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads.
- Choose more often for public transport or your bike instead of your car. Or use an electric car. The burning of gasoline releases carbon dioxide, after all.
- Buy more organic and sustainable products. Companies make products largely based on the wishes of their consumers. So if more people ask for products that are environment friendly produced, I believe companies will act according to this wish. By buying sustainable products, you also reduce your greenhouse gas emissions. If you buy, for example, a recyclable bag, less materials need to be transported and processed to make new bags.
- Choose green energy, like wind power or solar panels. Renewable sources of energy produce less carbon dioxide.