Climate change a time bomb waiting to take toll on planet

The World Wildlife Federation’s Living Planet Index calculated that if every person in the world lived the same lifestyle as Canadian do, we would need more than four planets’ worth of resources.

The World Wildlife Federation’s Living Planet Index calculated that if every person in the world lived the same lifestyle as Canadian do, we would need more than four planets’ worth of resources.

Our society’s need for energy: fossil fuels, coal, oil and natural gas all contribute to global warming.

Burning of fossil fuel for electricity and transportation produces carbon dioxide, which in turn traps heat from the sun‘s rays, warming the planet.

Since the 19th century the world’s average temperature has risen by 0.7 degrees Celsius. Scientists are predicting that we will reach two degrees Celsius by 2050!

So, how does this affect us?

If we don’t act there will be increased extreme weather such as hurricanes and tropical storms with floods in their wake.

There could be severe and prolonged droughts leading to forest fires, food shortages and economic instability.

There could be a loss of one million species of plants and animals, with insects and pests increasing due to warmer weather and infesting places they’ve never been before. We have seen much of the above happening already.

Did you know Canada is one of the least efficient nations in terms of energy use?

Canada produced 758 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2004, which is the third worst polluter of greenhouse gas emissions per capita in the world.

Our country’s greenhouse gas emissions have increased by 27 per cent from 1990 to 2004, despite the Kyoto Protocol commitment of a six per cent reduction by 2012.

Let’s get some perspective on this: an average car with a fuel consumption of 7.8 litres/100km travelling 16,000 km per year emits almost three tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

Without taking global warming into account, those three tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, per car pumping into the atmosphere cause air pollution, which is responsible for causing thousands of deaths, millions of cases of illness and billions of dollars in health care expenses.

Approximately 150 household chemicals such as cleaners, paints, and fumes from building materials, are associated with allergies, asthma, birth defects, cancer and psychological disorders.

Let’s make our ecological footprint smaller, two degrees Celsius is the danger threshold, by acting together we can reduce and maybe stop global warming, reduce carbon emissions and encourage others to do so.

Go green at home: clean your home without dirtying the earth – say no to toxic chemicals, turn down the heat, use fans to distribute warm air & cooler air in the summer, seal doors and windows, dimming your lights by 25 per cent uses 10 per cent less power, put a timer on outside lights, wash clothes in cool water, use sunshine to dry your clothes, use a low-flow toilet, water outside plants from a rain collection barrel/bin so hose water is not wasted, recycle and use a composter, install good thermal windows, carpool, bike or walk or if you can manage buy a hybrid car – which emits only two tonnes of carbon dioxide per year!

We can all make daily changes that add up to having a bigger impact to save our planet.

Lacombe freelance columnist Judy Holt is a wellness consultant and author of 1 Potato, 2 Potato, Couch Potato to You.

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