Last month I shared some of my reflections on a year of trying to take better care of the earth. Next, I wanted to do a more fun entry on some beautiful, supposedly sustainable wedding rings I've found but decided to postpone it. I know in my heart that I have a whole lot more to learn about taking care of our planet before recommending any more products. Instead of just finding ways that I think could help, I want to do things that I know will improve the quality of our home, the earth, and consequently the quality of our lives. I've avoided doing research because, honestly, it is a lot of work digging through dense content in an unknown territory. After trudging through some of the information, I think I've made some headway in my education on the increasingly poor health of our globe, what the cause is, and how we can restore it.
What is the current health of the earth?
Like our bodies, the climate of our world experiences natural fluctuating temperatures over time. These causes that more subtly alter its temperature are volcanic eruptions, natural greenhouse gas concentrations and changes in solar energy. Right now, however, the earth has a fever like never before and it continues to rise. This has been rapidly melting the ice in the Arctic and glaciers around the world, which threatens the homes of animals and humans who live on ice. The melting ice causes rising sea levels which then also threaten the animals and humans who live on coastlines and islands. Rapid changes in the climate have also been causing more severe weather like droughts, floods, heat waves and hurricanes, that are dangerous to all living things on the planet. If this fever increases, the health of our planet will decrease and it will be a more difficult place to survive.
What is THE CAUSE?
The rapid rising in temperature has been caused mainly by humans burning fossil fuels for electricity, transportation and heat. This has built up too many greenhouse gasses in the air and created a blanket around the earth, which causes heat to get trapped in our atmosphere. Additionally, we have been cutting down the trees that help absorb the main greenhouse gas, CO2. Essentially, we're suffocating the earth and ourselves with it. If, like me, you have a hard time believing that we small humans can affect the climate of a comparatively giant earth, Skeptical Science has put together a helpful list of answers to common misconceptions on this topic.
How can we improve it?
These are just a few of the ways I have found that we can best improve the health of our planet and protect everything that relies on it:
Use as little energy as possible in our homes and businesses. Turn lights and appliances off when they're not needed and switch to more efficient models. There are many places to recycle old appliances in Seattle like Total Reclaim.
Support Renewable energy
Support businesses who use renewable energy like wind, solar, hydro or geothermal energy to power their operations instead of fossil fuels.
We can reduce the use of our cars by living closer to our workplaces, carpooling and using public transportation. This in turn will reduce the amount of CO2 that is going into the atmosphere and building up against us. The best possible situation is if we are walking and biking more (like this town, that has never used cars). Right now, however, the U.S. is built for the car, and it will take a lot of city planning to be able to implement this solution widely. Luckily, there are cities around the world that are leading the way for us and testing out ideas that we can learn from.
INVEST IN BETTER
If we do need a car for part of the time, we should save and invest in a model that uses fuel with less CO2 emission like biofuels, hydrogen or energy from a renewable source. Sharing vehicles independently or through services like Car2Go and Zipcar will reduce the amount of cars that are produced and help conserve resources.
Taking control of our buying power and purchasing things that have been made out of recycled materials will cut down on the great amount of energy and resources used to forge new metals and pieces.
LET THE ANIMALS ROAM
Basically, letting livestock run around and be more active helps them not toot as much. As funny as it sounds, their toots emit gasses that contribute about 9% to the earth's stifling gasses and improving their quality of life will also improve ours. Let's support businesses and farmers who give their animals some space.
REDUCE OUR WASTE
By reusing, recycling, and composting we can reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfills. Landfills give off another greenhouse gas, methane, which adds to the suffocating bubble around us if it is not captured and used as energy. They also take up an unnecessary amount of land for trash that could otherwise be occupied by trees to help absorb CO2 and clean up our atmosphere.
I think if I was to sum up what I've been reading and point people in a general direction it would be the direction towards: living local, consuming conscientiously, and keeping our planet clean. My goal is to investigate all of these topics more fully and share with you what I am learning in the process. Please do the same!