Is it too late to reverse climate change?
Nuclear energy, zero-emission vehicles and sunpower solar panels can all help to reverse the negative effects of climate change that we have already observed throughout the world. But will they be enough? Experts at NASA say that it would take decades — if not centuries — to stop global warming in its tracks.
Even if humans made a complete transition to renewable energy resources and stopped emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere for good, the planet would need some time to respond to these positive changes. After eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from the planet, experts at NASA predict that the Earth’s average surface temperature would continue to rise by about 0.6 degrees throughout the next few decades.
While this time lag (known by scientists as thermal inertia) may seem discouraging, it’s important to remember that carbon dioxide remains in the air for hundreds of years before it finally disappears. As such, it can take a while to reverse the damage that we have already caused. However, it’s also important to remember that global warming can only get worse if we don’t attempt to reverse climate change in our lifetime.
According to the National Climate Assessment and its team of more than 300 experts, palm oil deforestation, the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities have played a major role in the warming of the planet throughout the previous 50 years. So, what can we do to reverse the damage we’ve caused and prevent further climate change from occurring?
Invest in Green and Alternative Energy
Investing in green electricity solutions can greatly help to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that are emitted into the atmosphere.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the transportation and electricity sectors were the nation’s leading sources of greenhouse emissions in 2017, with the transportation sector accounting for about 28.9 percent of U.S. greenhouse gases and the electricity sector coming in second at 27.5 percent.
Moreover, the EPA shares several renewable resources examples on its website to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that are emitted from these two sectors alone. Several examples include:
- Investing in solar, wind power and other renewable fuels that emit less carbon dioxide.
- Driving hybrid or electric vehicles.
- Demonstrating better driving practices, such as reducing engine idling time and avoiding rapid braking or accelerating.
- Using nuclear power to generate electricity instead of burning fossil fuels.
- Generating electricity from renewable resources such as the sun, water and wind.
- Reducing electricity use by purchasing energy-efficient products.
- Installing geothermal heating pumps as an alternative heating and cooling solution.
Solar Power Your Home
The benefits of residential solar panel installation are many. This alternative resource offers lower utility bills, an average increase of $15,000 in your home’s value, and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and other harmful pollutants that are proven to contribute to global warming. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), this type of alternative resource does not produce carbon dioxide or air pollutants like many other types of electricity, helping to slow climate change.
Moreover, the average solar power cost has decreased by nearly 50 percent since early 2014, according to the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy. While this carbon-free resource still costs more than conventional electricity, the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) provides consumers with a 30 percent federal tax credit when they install a solar system in their home. After this tax credit, the average installation costs around $12,516.
Explore Deforestation Solutions
According to deforestation facts and statistics from the EPA, the Land Use and Forestry sector contributed to 11.1 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions during the 2017 year. While 11 percent may not seem worrisome in comparison to the high percentages emitted by other sectors, the removal of trees is more problematic than it sounds.
Since trees capture and store carbon dioxide, they prevent greenhouse gases from building up in the atmosphere. The removal of trees and the destruction of forests contributes to global warming while also releasing stored carbon dioxide into the air.
Moreover, the Rainforest Alliance reminds us of the following: When deforestation occurs, it’s typically for agricultural reasons. When a tree is cleared, livestock and crops will usually take its place. Therefore, the combination of deforestation, fallen trees and agriculture account for about 25 percent of all global greenhouse gases.
To slow the effects of climate change, several deforestation solutions include the following:
- Reducing food waste by consuming or buying less food.
- Moving away from animal products such as meat and dairy.
- Learning about palm oil deforestation and trying to avoid products that contain palm oil.
- Purchasing products that are fair trade certified.
Consume Fewer Animal Products
In addition to using solar energy and other alternative resources as often as possible, it’s important to consider other lifestyle changes that need to be made in order to slow the effects of climate change. According to the EPA, the agriculture economic sector accounted for 9 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in 2017 — an increase of 8.8 percent since 1990. However, eating fewer animal products, especially meat, can help to fight the effects of climate change.
According to climate and alternative energy experts, we can all do our part to slow global warming by consuming greater quantities of vegetables and fewer meat products, as vegetable farming emits lower levels of greenhouse gases. To slow the effects of climate change, a sustainability and nutrition study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) recommends consuming more of the following foods:
- Vegetables such as onions, carrots, corn and peas.
- Fruits such as apples, grapes, plums, pears and oranges.
- Beans and lentils.
By investing in renewable resources such as wind, nuclear and solar power, becoming a more environmentally conscious shopper and consuming foods that produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions, we can work together to slow the negative effects of climate change.