Make a change, take a minute, conserve energy

by | Dec 4, 2015 | Opinion

Jelani Grant
Biz/Tech Editor 

Over 150 of the world’s leaders are meeting in Paris this week to discuss methods that could reduce greenhouse gases, more than a century after Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius declared that fossil fuel combustion could lead to global warming.

As a part of the United Nations’ Conference on Climate Change, an official website dedicated solely to COP21 (21st Conference of the Parties) was created. The website provides a number of links to information regarding the conference, as well as insight on the issues as well as actions that can be taken to assist in the battle against climate change.

However, most interesting to me was the 10 day-to-day habits recommended to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. After quickly reading the tips, I reflected on my daily energy use to determine how many of these could easily be achieved. It turns out that climate-friendly habits are not impossibly demanding, and can be accomplished by anyone, though they could require a number of uncomfortable adjustments for the average first-world citizen.

The first tip suggested using energy-efficient appliances such as GE energy-saving light bulbs because of their ability to last eight times longer while using five times less energy. Some may find the cost unworthy of a purchase, while others may just have a low tolerance for the flickering. However, the biggest issue with these energy-efficient lights is the poisonous mercury that could be released into the home if the bulb breaks.

Turning off appliances and light switches when not in use was another eco-friendly recommendation. The task of switching off electronics is quite easy, as many parts of the world already use limited electricity. Yet, the website proposes a reduction of Internet use as the servers emit almost 10kg of carbon dioxide per year.

The website claims lowering the heat from 20 degrees to 19 degrees already lowers energy consumption by seven per cent. That change is not very dramatic, in contrast to changing diet, which could be a challenging task for many people. According to the COP21 website, eating more fruits and vegetables in replace of animal proteins can lower greenhouse gas emissions even further.

The other suggested habits on the site included limiting water use, paper use, recycling as much as possible, and using alternative travel options like carpooling, transit, or cycling. Those first three techniques are already being practiced in businesses and homes across North America but even stricter use of paper and water could further the initiative. Concerning the travelling substitutes, I personally cannot tolerate the Toronto Transit Commission service that extends my usual trip time to over an hour as opposed to the 25 minutes it normally takes me on the highway.

These tips and facts surrounding global warming may be helpful for those actively looking at ways to curb greenhouse gases. And the William Nordhaus two degrees theory, stating that a world temperature rise of two degrees above pre-industrial levels could bring the planet to a level unseen in the last 100,000 years, means everyone should get involved.

For the possibility of catastrophic climate change could still become a reality if a majority of the world does not take immediate action. The fact that governments took so long to make an assertive effort in cleaning the planet we all live on proves the lack of ethics throughout world powers in modern society and the indifferent attitude of each society’s populace.