Our lives and our planet are gifts from God, and we have a responsibility to take care of both. Just like we take care of our bodies by eating, sleeping, and following God (and maybe even going to the gym once in a while), we need to take care of our planet. Climate change is very real and a great concern to all those of us who want to continue to live here and enjoy the beauty of nature, as God created it. So let’s take a look at what climate change really is, why it happens and what we can do about it.
So what is climate change?
There are lots of places you can go to read all about climate change (like here , here and here) but it boils down to three simple statements: the planet is getting warmer, humans are a significant contributing factor and if we don’t change that the planet is going to be in an awful situation.
So what causes climate change?
There are lots of things that contribute to climate change some of them are natural, but the biggest problem is that people (and businesses) are burning too many fossil fuels (like oil and gasoline) and thereby releasing carbon dioxide into the air, which stays in the atmosphere, sucks up heat and increases the greenhouse effect (i.e. it gets really warm!). The fact that there are more urban areas (i.e. cities) and less farmland also affects the environment because trees use carbon dioxide and turn it into oxygen which cuts down on the greenhouse gas effect…you can learn a little more about it here .
The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) has a pretty good youth forum area where they discuss climate change and how Canada fits into the bigger picture…you can check it out here and here.
I was curious and wanted to know what impact my lifestyle has on the planet, I thought I was definitely more environmentally aware than others. I took a minute to find out what my impact really is. At my house we recycle everything we can, we reuse as much as possible, I take the bus to work and walk whenever I can, we use environmentally friendly cleaners and paper products, we don’t waste electricity, and we wash in cold water. And my footprint(www.myfootprint.org) was 57.32 which means that if everyone on the planet lived like I do we would need 3.65 earths to sustain life. The “average Canadian” scores 89.25 or 5.68 earths…yikes!
Then I realized: At my house we also have a furnace, and we own a car and I’m sorry but until the world of science figures out how to heat our 65 year old house without fossil fuels and makes a car that I can actually afford that runs on water or air then what are we to do?
Does it really matter anyway? So what if the earth gets warmer? Then we’ll all just feel like we live in the Caribbean, it’ll be like a permanent vacation from winter, right? WRONG!!
So why does it matter?
Climate change will change our future-our jobs, our local environment, our health and the way we live.
- More severe weather like heavier rain and snowfall, flooding, droughts and forest fires will disrupt our lives, and cost us more through higher taxes and raised insurance premiums.
- Changes in weather patterns will limit what we can do outdoors. Downhill and cross-country ski seasons may get a lot shorter; droughts may affect the quality of camping and hiking sites.
- Health problems like asthma, allergies and bronchitis will worsen because of higher humidity and increased mould, pollen and pollution in the air.
- Tropical infectious diseases like malaria will spread into temperate areas.
- Our employment opportunities will be affected by changes to industry.
I live in Newfoundland, and while yes it is a mild climate, which means mild winters and cool summers, we are used to winter eventually arriving, steady cold temperatures, some snow, not so much rain until March or so, then everything gets wacky and there’s snow and rain and temperature goes up and down and all around! But in recent years, say the last 5-10, I have noticed a huge difference in the weather, this year especially: no one knows how to dress because one day the temperature is minus 10 or 15 the next its 0 or plus 5 it snows, then turns to rain then everything freezes solid! If this is a sign of things to come, count me out!
So what can we do?
Straight from the nature man himself, David Suzuki lists all the things we can do at home, at work, even in our food choices, all the things we can do to help save the planet . The IISD also tells what we can do, the full list is here , some suggestions include:
- Turn off things when not using them. By saving electricity, fossil fuels will not need to be burned to generate electricity.
- Use recycled goods-they take less energy to make than new products. Reuse items, too.
- Put on a sweater in the winter and use a fan in the summer-don’t rely so much on furnaces and air conditioners to stay comfortable.
- Walk, ride your bike, use public transportation or carpool.
For those who want to take things a step further, Canadian Youth Climate Coalition is more politically focused, taking action to the next level and trying to influence decision makers to protect our country by making better choices. The truth of the matter is it’s not just my foot print or your foot print that’s causing all the damage, although we should certainly be doing something about our own impact on the environment, but big business and government are destroying our natural environment, with factories and cutting down the rain forest, air and water pollution. This site and others like it give youth a voice in the fight against climate change.
What will you do to help save the planet??
Other youth action groups:
- Youth Against Climate Change (UK Organization)
- African Youth Initiative on Climate Change
- Youth and Climate Change Project (Carribean Youth)