A thin film of sweat covers my arms in spite of the open window and the electric fan a few meters away. The BBC news is on TV and shows Beijing residents donning masks as they wake up to yet another day of high air pollution. This occurrence has been gradually increasing since several years.
It is perplexing if not alarming that Merriam Webster defines global warming as an increase in the earth’s atmospheric and oceanic temperatures widely predicted to occur due to an increase in the greenhouse effect resulting from pollution. (underscore is mine). From my perspective – in Manila over the sultry summer season watching news of spring pollution in Beijing – global warming is definitely here, now; no doubt about it.
Origin and Cause
Scientists have noted global warming in the 1800s and have continued to track its existence. It was in the 1980s when scientists began to give serious attention to the subject and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established in 1989.
Global warming is caused by effects of greenhouse gases which come from processes that humans engage in. Greenhouse gases come from car fuel, factories, production of electricity, methane from landfills and agriculture, and denuding of forests.
As you may remember from 5th Grade Biology class, plants and trees take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. Humans and animals inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. It’s a perfect but delicate balance.
Governments Get Going?
Knowledge of its causes gave us the tools to slow down global warming by aiming to lower greenhouse emissions. Governments have discussed the changing environment in Stockholm in 1972 but it took 20 more years at the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992 for these world governments to come up with the Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) and Biological Diversity. This led to formulation of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 and its enforcement much later in 2005.
Based on mere chronology, it does appear to be a case of starting too late and moving too slowly.
When you add to this the fact that the United States has not ratified the protocol, Canada recently withdrew, and a number of participating nations have not met their lower emission targets, the scenario does look bleak.
While we do need to keep informed, lobby our public officials, exert consumer influence on businesses, and support environmental organizations, we can simultaneously do something closer to home on a daily basis. We can choose to be part of the solution and make it a habit to lower our carbon footprint and consume resources only as needed.
- Lessen your waste with mindful purchases. Consumerism adds to landfills.
- Bring your own shopping bags, coffee mugs, water jugs.
- Eat less meat.
- Buy products and produce from local/ community sources.
- Say NO to products in aerosol cans and meals in styrofoam boxes.
- Bathe using a dipper and a bucket’; finish off with a quick shower rinse. Make full baths planned infrequent treats to look forward to.
- Use electric fans versus air conditioners.
- Plant more trees. Build around existing trees.
- Reuse envelopes, the back of used papers, boxes, tin foil, etc.
- Walk, commute, carpool.
- Teach the children and encourage the youth.
Turning off the TV and the fan, I step out to the front yard where a cool breeze rustles the nearby “Dama de Noche” bush. I count the stars bright against the midnight sky, exhale slowly, and renew my commitment to do my share. Our species created global warming. Will we be able to reverse or stall its effects? The answer has got to be, “Yes!” There is no room for doubt
(submission to HQ Systems)