Complied by Indhrannie pillay
In light of the recent spate of erratic weather conditions, many people find themselves questioning the advent of global warming. What is Global warming? Simply put, it is the heating up of the earth.
Global warming is the earth’s response to the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is a result of greenhouse gases (GHG) such as carbon dioxide, methane and other natural gases, which are released into the air, and warm the surface of the earth by trapping solar heat in the atmosphere. This is a natural process and is actually good for our planet as it keeps it habitable. However, the excessive emission of GHG into the atmosphere is dangerous and which is resulting in global warming.
The greenhouse effect is a natural one, and acts as a blanket on the earth, which traps heat to sustain natural balance in ecosystems. Whereas the greenhouse effect is natural, global warming is a result of our activities and not a natural occurrence. We have increased the amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuel such as coal, gas (petrol) and oil. New industrial and urban developments are springing up at faster rates all over the place. To make space for these developments, massive deforestation is occurring, destroying the balance in nature.
A large majority of the world’s science community agree that global warming is a very real threat to the survival of the earth and is a result of human activities. We have already borne testament to its effects. We are seeing more and more “natural” disasters such has the tsunami, hurricanes, flash floods, heat waves, droughts and wildfires. Plants and animals are being forced from the natural habitats. According to natural scientists, at least 279 species of plants and animals are already responding to global warming and are moving closer to the poles.
Geophysical Research into increased coastal thinning has shown that the flow of ice from the glaciers in Greenland has more than doubled over the past decade. The melting of the ice presents the very realistic threat of sea level rising to such an extent that coastal cities are at risk of being drowned out over the next few decades. The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment in 2004 showed the impact of global warming on the Arctic Circle. Results from the assessment show by 2050 The Arctic Ocean would be ice free.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Deaths from global warming will double in just 25 years to 300 000 people a year. The consequence of global warming is indeed a frightening thought. It is our moral obligation to ourselves and the future generation, to help solve this problem that we have caused. By making small changes in our daily routines we could help against the global warming.
Few tips on how you can help in the fight against global warming:
The first step would be to swap from using regular light bulbs to energy saving bulbs. These bulbs use 60% less energy than the regular bulbs and will save about 60kgs of carbon dioxide released every year.
Do not leave appliances such as televisions and computers on stand by mode. Use the actual On/Off switch on the appliance when you are done with it. Appliances use about 40% of its energy in standby mode.
Cover your pots while cooking. Doing so traps the heat in the pot and ensures the food cooks faster thereby saving a lot of energy by reducing the amount of time your stove is on.
You can save about 14kgs of carbon dioxide in 6 months if you dry your clothes out on a clothes line rather than opting for a dryer.
Recycle in your home. If you look around you will find that more than half of the waste in your homes can be recycled.
Buy intelligently. Instead of buying three 0.5 l bottles, but one 1.5l bottle. It requires less energy to produce one bottle than three, and it produces fewer waste products. Also choose products that come in refills. You will cut down on waste products and energy here too.
Make use of the reusable shopping bags. Plastic bags not only discharge carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, it also pollutes the air, groundwater and the soil.
Kuyasa Project to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions
The Cape Town City Council in partnership with SouthSouthNorth, a non-profit developmental organisation, has developed the Kuyasa Low Income Urban Housing Energy Upgrade Project which was initiated in 2002. The project is South Africa’s first registered Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project, which manages the reduction of Greenhouse Gases (GHG) emissions to promote environmental conservation as well as deliver substantial benefits to the local community. It involves retrofitting 2300 low income houses in Kuyasa, Khayelitsha, with energy efficient lighting, insulated ceilings and solar water heaters. The result of this is a reduction in GHG emissions through the avoidance of electricity or alternative fossil fuel use by households. Over a 21 year period the project will result in a significant reduction of Carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. The project also provides numerous sustainable development benefits by contributing to the health and energy costs to the beneficiary households. The inventions in the houses improves the ambient temperature of the house, thereby reducing the need for paraffin stoves and other heat sources which hold negative respiratory health impacts and fire-related dangers. The Kuyasa project has received international recognition through its validation as a gold-standard clean development mechanism project. The gold standard is given to projects contributing to sustainable development and is awarded by international non-governmental organisations. Vienna-based Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) is to provide support to enable the project as a model project for national replication.