Does Climate Change Affect Us?
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Natural disasters are occurring more frequently. Melting ice caps, floods, famine, threat to marine life, litter, food wastage are all patterns that we see occurring around different parts of the world and yet some of us still ask “Does climate change affect us?”
Well, if you are not completely sure I will break it down for you right here in this post. Climate change affects us and there has never been a better time to act.
In this post, we will look at the following:
- The Difference Between Climate and Weather
- What Exactly is Climate Change?
- The Difference between Climate Change and Global Warming
- Effects of Climate Change on Water, Agriculture, Animals and Marine Life
- Climate Change and Marginalized Communities
- 36 Things You Can Do To Reduce Climate Change
The Difference Between Climate and Weather
In order to understand what climate change is all about, it is important to understand what the word “climate” means.
Weather changes from one place to another and it is simply the daily changes we see. For example, it may be sunny today and day after, it is cloudy. This shows that it takes the weather only some hours to change.
Climate on the other hand is the weather of a place and this can vary from season to season. For example, Canada is mostly warm and dry in the summer but it’s the opposite in Winter! Cold and snowy!
Now a combination of all the climates around the globe is what is referred to as Earth’s climate.
Now that we understand this basic concepts, let’s look at what Climate change is all about.
What Exactly is Climate Change?
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Changes in the actual weather of a place over a long period is what is known as Climate Change. Changes come in different forms – wind patterns, the temperature of that place or it could be the amount of precipitation.
So for example, a place where heavy snow usually falls now becomes a place where there’s little or no snowfall! It is a known fact that the earth is getting warmer; the people who study the earth have measured earth temperatures and it is evident that the earth is getting warmer!
The Changing Climate is Affecting Our Planet
The earth is warming up, oceans are getting warmer and examples of these warming pattern is noticed around the world – melting icecaps resulting in rising sea levels is a sign of climate change.
The changing climate is affecting our planet; drought is threatening wildlife, water and crops!
Sea levels are rising and oceans are becoming warmer. Longer, more intense droughts threaten crops, wildlife and freshwater supplies.
From polar bears in the Arctic to marine turtles off the coast of Africa, our planet’s diversity of life is at risk from the changing climate. We have to start taking steps to restore our earth now!
The Difference between Climate Change and Global Warming
Is there any difference between climate change and global warming? Yes, I’ve heard this question many times. Some of us tend to use these two terms interchangeably.
Global warming is an aspect of climate change and as the name implies, global warming is a rise in the earth’s temperature due to the rising amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Effects of Climate Change on Water, Agriculture, Animals and Marine Life
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As the earth warms up, more water evaporates from the land and seas. We all need water to survive, however; the warming of the earth is having a significant effect on the quality of water, the amount and how it is also distributed around the world.
This means some parts of the world will experience more rainfall and snow which in turn may result in flooding while other parts may experience severe droughts.
Whether we like it or not the fact remains that several communities are already affected.
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The effects of climate change on land, seas and oceans is obvious as more animal species are going extinct on a yearly basis.
Their homes are less comfortable because they are dealing with pollution from waste, air and water and they may have to alter their feeding patterns just to survive the climate change impacts.
Climate change has made life difficult for animals and in some cases these animals decline in population and eventually they become extinct.
The good news is that we can all do our part by suppressing the effects of climate change and a way to do this is by contributing to animal conservation efforts happening around the globe.
Let’s take a look at some animals below.
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The warming of the earth has led to melting ice caps. Climate change is destroying the homes of Polar Bears in the Arctic and ice is important for polar bears to survive.
It is believed that the polar bear population is declining due to climate change.
Polar bears find it difficult to hunt for their food, most especially seals due to the extreme cold Polar bears need ice to get hold of their prey – the seals.
So without ice, polar bears will become homeless and have little or no access to food.
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Asian elephants are sensitive to high temperatures. Since the earth is warming up this has led to a decline in the Asian elephant population.
These animals need a lot of freshwater to live and it is only natural for them to need even more water when the weather becomes warmer isn’t it?
As the weather also gets warmer access to their food – bamboo leaves becomes difficult as invasive plants are also taking over the region.
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Another specie that is facing animal population decline is the Cheetahs.
The cheetah is the world’s fastest land animal and it’s facing a speedy decline in population numbers in the face of climate change.
It is also a known fact that higher temperatures as a result of global warming has affected the Cheetahs’ ability to give birth!
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Crops and land used for grazing need the right temperature and rainfall to thrive. Climate change can impact agriculture in a positive way and also in a negative way.
Regions in Canada for example will warm up in the next 60 years. Drought, flood and higher temperatures will affect crop and livestock resulting in less crop yield and death of livestock due to heat. Canadians, I believe its time to do our part to reduce climate change eh?
Weed will increasingly grow due to high levels of carbon dioxide. Also, the amount of pests and weeds on farmlands will rise. This really is not what we want to happen.
4. Marine life
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When temperatures rise continuously it has adverse effects on marine life. The ocean warms up as temperature rises. It affects their feeding and spawning which results in less food for those who depend on seafood as a protein source.
Melting sea ice as a result of our earth warming up also means loss of habitat for penguins, seals and whales.
Climate Change and Marginalized Communities
The World Bank Statistics Says It All
If you are still asking yourself the question “Does Climate Change Affect Us”? Well, I’ll respond by stating that according to the World Bank group, climate change could lead to an additional 100 million people living in poverty by 2030.
The ideal scenario worldwide would be for all nations to have access to food, education, equality, health care, water, sanitation and social protection and this can happen if we stay on course and work towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in order to tackle climate change.
Some Groups of People Will Feel The Climate Change Impacts than Others
The impacts of climate change are different around the world and some groups of people will feel the impacts more than other groups. This is dependent on where they live and how they are able to cope with different climate hazards.
Some people live in coastal areas where weather conditions are harsh and hygiene levels are poor. What needs to be addressed urgently in every part of the world is different.
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For example in Sub Saharan Africa, food prices keep going higher and this makes people spend more on food. Now, how about those who can barely sustain themselves and their families?
Marginalized communities need to adapt to climate change as drought and floods affect their source of income and homes.
But how will these communities survive if they are left out of discussions and decision-making?
Obviously their ability to adapt to disasters can only be achieved if they are included in discussions.
The occupation of people who reside in such areas is usually fish farming since they live in coastal areas. Take for example a marginalized community like Makoko with half the population on water and half on land.
Inequality makes disadvantaged groups around the world more exposed to the catastrophic effects of climate change.
Inequality also reduces their ability to deal with and overcome any form of destruction caused by climate hazards.
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In North America, the poor are exposed to extreme weather conditions. putting their health at risk.
Some communities are also situated close to pollution sites and housing development that lack proper insulation and air conditioning and these households cannot even afford to pay for such services.
Lack of Financial Resources
Developing nations are more vulnerable because they lack financial resources and the technology to cope with climate change while developed countries will be able to adapt better.
It is important to understand the constraints of both the developing and developed nations and also look at the best ways to be implement climate justice according to their needs.
36 Things You Can Do To Reduce Climate Change
Just pick one thing from this list and start now. It really is as simple as that. Share this list with your friends and family.
1. Pick up Litter
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Litter is a threat to us, our environment and also to animals. You can make a difference in your community by picking up litter around you.
If you are going to pick up litter, I suggest you do so safely. First, pick a location and make sure you have garbage bags, safety vests with reflective strips and pick up sticks.
Pick up sticks are great because they let you pick up litter safely without bending too much. You can certainly find good ones online.
Safety vests on the other hand are very important too as they make you visible to motorists especially if you are picking litter near the roadside.
Now take it a step further with the litter you’ve collected by picking out all the items that are recyclable and place them in a recycling bin.
2. Buy in Bulk
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Buy What you need
Buying larger quantities of a product at a time will do our planet a lot of good. Consider products with little or no packaging.
If you have a zero waste store in your area, patronize them. I would like to point out that when buying in bulk only buy what you need. When you buy in bulk you save money and also protect the environment at the same time.
Buy products you are familiar with
Great ideas of things you can buy in bulk include rice, dried pasta, beans, butter, laundry detergent, trash bags, school and office supplies.
Also, ensure you are familiar with the products you are going to buy because it can be disappointing to buy large quantities of a product you haven’t tried before and then you later realize that the product does not work for you after the first try.
Share with friends and family
If you live in a small apartment you can still buy in bulk. Consider buying items in bulk with friends or family and sharing them so you take with you only what you need, you save money and also avoid waste.
Buy Quality items
It is important to buy items that of good quality. Patronize your local zero waste supermarket if you have one in your community. Less packaging is better for the environment.
A waste audit will let you know the composition of materials you throw out. The average American throws out 4.4 tonnes of waste on a daily basis.
Now this might not sound like a lot but when you consider the American population of over 300 million that is roughly over 720,000 tonnes of garbage everyday enough to fill 63,000 garbage trucks!
Waste audit benefits are huge and you can conduct a waste audit at home or even your place of work.
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A great way to do your own bit is by doing charity work. Choose a charity you love and volunteer. There are so many organizations doing great work and they will be happy to have you on board.
5. Repair leaky faucets
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A leaky faucet that drips once per second can waste over 8 gallons a day. That’s 3,000 gallons per year!
6. Energy efficient bulbs
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Energy efficient bulbs are good for the environment. Ensure you have energy efficient bulbs in your homes and remember to turn them off when not in use.
7. Say No To Cotton Swabs
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Cotton swabs are sticks made out of plastic and they’re covered at the ends with cotton. Did you know that cotton swabs are one of the most serious sources of marine pollution? Birds and sea animals mistaken them for food because they are small.
Also, you should stop using cotton swabs because they tend to push the wax further into your ear! Some countries have already banned this product due to the negative effects.
Even Canada is looking at banning plastics this year 2021 and cotton buds are on the list of items that will be banned!
8. Shorten your Shower
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According to healthline, the average shower lasts 8 minutes. Showers use 2.5 gallons of water per minute, and each gallon uses three ounces of carbon dioxide.
Try reducing your shower by 2 minutes daily and save over 340 pounds of carbon dioxide in one year!
9. Bamboo Brushes are better
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It may take about 1,000 years for a plastic toothbrush to decompose. Bamboo itself is grass which makes it a renewable resource. Bamboo toothbrushes are better for the environment than plastic.
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Boiling more water than you need simply means you are wasting water, electricity and also contributing to carbon emissions that could have been avoided.
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25 billion coffee cups are thrown out yearly! Wow! That’s a lot of coffee cups. If you didn’t know, singe use coffee cups are difficult to recycle because they contain plastic lining.
The good news is that a lot of coffee shops are now giving discounts if you use your own reusable cups.
It is important to pay attention to the environmental impact of building materials used in our homes. Selecting products that reduce waste, pollution and energy efficient are crucial.
A house that is properly insulated is one that’s highly energy efficient. This is because the amount of energy needed to cool or heat your house is reduced.
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A shopping list always helps. Avoid shopping on impulse and stick to your list. Also ensure you avoid buying too much. Just buy what you need.
You can reduce your food waste by planning meals ahead, freezing leftovers and composting kitchen waste.
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Carpooling has so many benefits. It is convenient, better for the environment and even great for your health. You get to share the cost of gas and that of parking. Imaging carpooling with 3 or more people.
The more people you share a car with, the more money you save and that also results in less greenhouse gas emissions.
15. Recycle more
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Recycling is not limited to newspapers alone. Ensure you recycle old mobile phones, batteries and even broken appliances. Also, purchase recycled goods instead of buying new.
16. Invest in Solar Energy
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Yes solar energy can be pricey but if you can afford it, it’s the way to go! Why? It is renewable, meaning it will always be available since the energy is from the sun and no harmful carbon dioxide is released.
17. Purchase toilet paper with no plastic packaging
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There are great toilet paper brands out there that are made out of recycled paper or even bamboo. A quick search on google will help you. Great brands like Who Gives A crap make their toilet paper from recycled paper meaning they do not have to cut down trees to manufacture toilet paper.
18. Go paperless
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Going paperless has many benefits whether you are at work, school or home. You save money, time and protect the environment by ensuring paper does not end up in landfill.
Paper manufacturing results in global warming, deforestation and the production of greenhouse gases.
19. Use bar soaps
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Bar soaps reduce plastic waste. So it’s a winner in my opinion.
20. Say yes to rechargeable batteries
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If you are the type that buys disposable batteries all the time, it’s time to switch to rechargeable batteries that can be used again and again. Just make sure that when you get a rechargeable battery, remember to use them over and over again.
21. Use Your Dryer Less
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Why run the dryer when you can air dry your clothes for free? The dryer is one of most energy hungry appliance in the home. You can reduce the carbon footprint of your home by air drying your clothes on a drying rack indoors especially during the winter months.
In the warmer months, you can simply air dry your clothes outside on a line or rack. It may take longer to air dry your clothes but you save money.
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Imagine serving the food grown in your backyard at dinner time? You will save money and also reduce carbon emissions. Most importantly you know exactly where your food is coming from.
23. Get Involved in Your Community
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See what programs are available in your community and see how you can help combat climate change. Contact your municipality to see what environmental programs are available and how you can volunteer to make your community more environmentally friendly.
Speak to your councilor and MP and ask them to push forward policies on climate change.
24. Plastic Straw is a no no
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Go to a restaurant or fast food joints and they are quick to give you straws for drinks! It’s high time we started rejecting plastic straws from restaurants. Greenhouse gases arising from the production of plastics are threatening our planet. Every straw counts in the fight against climate change.
According to this report, the production of plastics in the year 2019 resulted in the emission of over 150 coal plants and this number will continue to rise such that by 2030 it could rise to 295!
Plastics are making their way into our oceans and making animals sick due to our own behavior. If you need a straw badly opt for a reusable one.
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Did you know that some tea bags contain some plastic. Also let’s think of how many teabags we will use up especially if you are a tea lover. The solution is to switch to biodegradable tea bags or loose tea. You can compost them after use.
26. Full load of dishwasher
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If you have an energy efficient dishwasher in your home, then kindly put down your sponge and let the dishwasher do all the work. It can actually cost you more to do the dishes by hand.
Highly efficient dishwashers will use less water and energy to clean your dishes than hand washing. Scrape food bits into your compost bin and place in the dishwasher. Ensure your dishwasher is fully loaded.
27. Shop Local
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Farmers markets are great places to get foods produced locally. I encourage you to shop locally when you can. Supermarket produce in most cases travel several kilometers to get to you the consumer.
28. Fast fashion is hurting our environment
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A lot of greenhouse gases is being generated by the fashion industry worldwide as a result of energy used when producing, manufacturing and transporting garments bought yearly.
The textile industry produces more carbon emissions than the airline and maritime industries combined.
If you are thinking of purchasing new clothes, ensure you buy clothes that will last long. Also buy clothes made of natural materials if possible.
29. Tap off while brushing please
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Yes! If you witness anyone brushing and they have the tap running please tell them to turn it off! Did you know that when brushing, if you turn off the tap in the morning and at bedtime you save 8 gallons of water which adds up to over 200 gallons monthly?
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Plastic cutlery are making their way into the water bodies including oceans, rivers and seas. Now, here is the scary part, these are the same sources our water for drinking and domestic uses come from! Why not say no to single use cutlery and yes to reusable ones!
31. Use Ecofriendly Cleaning Products
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A lot of cleaning products are packaged in disposable containers and many cleaning products out there contain chemicals that may be harmful to us and the planet.
It is important at this point to seek alternatives that are Eco friendly.
32. Avoid commuting
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Less commute means less carbon emissions. See if you can work from home a few days a week and also consider a ride share program.
33. Ride Your Bike and Cut down on Emissions
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Unlike buses and cars, bikes do not need fuel which means they are safe for our environment. So I encourage you today to start riding your bike and cut down on emissions.
In order to reduce emissions worldwide, laws should be revised to protect pedestrians and cyclists, large scale bike networks should be developed and also bike-share programs need to be implemented.
34. Cut down on Waste by registering at Your Local Library
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The library is packed with lots of useful resources that you may not even need to spend anything extra in order to purchase certain items such as books.
35. Lower the Thermostat
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In the colder months, you just want to turn up the thermostat but the best thing to do for yourself, and the environment is to turn it down. You can throw on a sweater or pair socks if you need to.
36. Reusable Bags
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Reusable bags are better for the environment. Always keep them handy, just so you are not forced to purchase plastic bags whenever you don’t have them with you. I always keep 2 bags in my bag just so I have them with me always.
Does Climate Change affect us? It really does and the time to take a hard look at our habits is now. Start by picking just one thing from my list of 36 things you can do to reduce climate change now.
We can solve the problem of climate change if organizations and also individuals, make huge reductions in greenhouse gas emissions whenever we can.
Let us pay attention to our daily activities and see where we can make these cuts. We can supplement our efforts with carbon offsets but that should not replace our own efforts to reduce emissions.
A good way to reduce emissions can be cutting back on energy consumption which also saves you money all year round. When you make such reductions, you are motivated to even find ways to reduce your emissions even more.
If you have not already; I encourage you to watch the movie Before the Flood, a great movie by actor and UN Messenger of Peace, Leonardo Di Caprio and filmmaker Fisher Stevens.
The movie presents changes happening around the world as a result of climate change. The movie also talks about steps we can take to prevent the disruption of life on planet earth.
Hope you found this post helpful, if you have any comments leave them below.