At the end of the month, representatives from 190 nations worldwide will attempt to achieve a new international agreement enabling the limit of global warming to below 2°C. The stakes are high at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, or COP21, as this year’s event will be the first to attempt universal legislation in the face of dangerous climate disruption.
This conference comes at a time when human activity poses an increased risk to all life on this planet. Recent reports have indicated that if greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked, we could soon reach a point where reversing warming trends may prove impossible.
Although many government officials, corporate CEOs, industry leaders, and investors will attend this meeting in hopes of enacting change, the bulk of all change must come at the hands of ordinary, everyday citizens around the planet – because without the help of the majority, a global green movement will ultimately never succeed.
As climate change affects every single human being and living organism on this planet, it must be acknowledged as the most pressing concern facing the world today. The World Bank estimates that over 100 million people could be displaced and thrust into poverty in the next 15 years as a direct result of global warming. In agreement with over 97% of the international scientific community, it’s imperative all measures which combat increasing CO2 and other greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere deserve the utmost consideration.
Today we are largely aware that large corporations like the automobile, oil, coal, and agriculture industries contribute the bulk of carbon emissions to the atmosphere, and it’s already widely acknowledged that the burning of coal and oil along with other types of fossil fuels is unsustainable in the long term. But people still need to recognize their own individual responsibility in ending harmful emissions and pollution. The EPA has reported that our transportation and electricity needs combine to generate about 60% of total greenhouse gas emissions, and the water used to grow just the food we discard is greater than the water used by any other single nation on Earth.
In the face of such immense and overwhelming statistics, the easiest response is to simply do nothing and continue to function as a cog in the larger carbon-generating machine. But there are ways to take simple, direct action that also have powerful eco-friendly ramifications. Walk, ride a bike, or use public transportation instead of driving. And if you can’t escape your automobile, carefully assess the emissions it produces. According to ATCO, just 25% of the cars on the road (dirty, dated rust buckets) produce 90% of the air pollution we breathe. Remember to reduce, reuse, or recycle – in that order – to decrease further unnecessary waste. Consume less electricity by turning off lights, buying more energy-efficient bulbs, or properly insulating your home. Most importantly, it’s imperative we turn towards renewable sources of energy such as wind or solar power, both of which can easily be implemented within the home. All of these steps and more would help reduce one’s carbon footprint.
People must wake up and realize that every single person contributes in some small way to the destruction of their local environment; it is an inevitable part of existence, to remain alive at the expense of other living creatures and the future of the planet. The unrestrained way this has propagated on a global scale will ultimately lead to inevitable environmental collapse, and now is the time to take a proactive approach to acting more consciously and deliberately to halt this progress and save the environment from ourselves.