Plant a Tree Today
“One must care about a world one will not see”. Mahatma Gandhi
Sometime ago, say 10 years, we even could not understand the meaning of terms like, global warming, climate change, carbon emission, carbon footprints and god knows how many others words, we ever heard, but the situations is that now we should know the meaning of each and every word at least for the sake of enlarging our knowledge.
These words are very important words, explaining the current horrifying situation being faced by our mother earth on the parlance of global warming and its damages to her. Our unawareness of the above words is the subject for the past, as it is now a ground reality that the industrialization, globalization, modernization made our mother earth wept. “Save-me-otherwise-you-will-also-die-with-me”.
Even though, the industrialized nations, especially, America and European nations have contributed substantially to the extent of there is nothing to be done more, the blame game continues and war of words, blaming each other for the prevailing situation. Sometimes, US blame India and China and sometimes other countries, though their contributions are not that much what the developed nations did to the earth.
Newspapers, on daily basis, printed the blame games of the leaders of developed nations and at times US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice (though UN says there is no RICE to eat in many parts of the world) is finding fault with the developing countries, saying the culprits India, China and other third world countries responsible for global warming and other damages and often warns for imposing sanctions on the poor souls. Let us leave their words on the impression that they are simply playing politics.
Anyway, the fact remains a fact, whoever damages the ecosystems and the climate and whoever is responsible for the climate change, the earth is dying, when she dies the other living beings also finished, this is the truth. Ok, to continue further, let us find out the meaning of the some of the context we have to deal with these days.
Global Warming (sources) Global warming is the increase in the average measured temperature of the Earth’s near-surface air and oceans since the mid-20th century and its projected continuation. Mean surface temperature anomalies during the period 1995 to 2004 with respect to the average temperatures from 1940 to 1980. Increasing global warming (temperature) is expected to cause sea level to rise, an increase in the intensity of extreme weather events and significant changes to the amount and pattern of rainfall.
Other expected effects of global warming include changes in agricultural yields, modifications of trade routes, glacier melting, species extinctions and increases in the ranges of disease vectors.
What is Climate Change? (Sources) Climate change is the result of a build up of greenhouse gases (GHG), mostly carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere. GHGs serve to trap the suns heat in the earth’s atmosphere, forming the greenhouse effect – a natural phenomenon that keeps the earth warm.
However, when the concentration of GHGs gets too large, and the earth’s equilibrium gets out of balance, we experience a dangerous rise in temperatures, which can result in severe and extreme weather conditions. In effect, earth’s blanket thickens and our atmosphere absorbs and holds more heat than it radiates back. This could directly affect rainfall, flooding and droughts, agriculture, economies, health and ecology.
The reason for the unexpected rise in carbon emissions is largely a direct result of human intervention over the last 50 years and is attributable to human activities. In fact, since the industrial age began around 150 years ago, man’s burning of fossil fuels coal, oil and gas to fuel machinery has meant a rise in GHG emissions, mainly carbon dioxide, for the past 2 centuries.
Some scientists estimate the increase in carbon dioxide emissions over the last 150 years to be 35 to 60 per cent and the global temperatures will rise additional 3 to10 degrees Fahrenheit (1.6 to 5.5 degrees Celsius) by this century’s end.
Greenhouse effect (Sources) The greenhouse effect is the process in which the emission of infrared radiation by the atmosphere warms a planet’s surface. Conventional representation of the exchanges of energy between outer space, the Earth’s atmosphere, and the Earth surface. The ability of the atmosphere to capture and recycle energy emitted by the Earth surface is the defining characteristic of the greenhouse effect.
The greenhouse effect was discovered by Joseph Fourier in 1824 and first investigated quantitatively by Svante Arrhenius in 1896. In the absence of the greenhouse effect, the Earth’s average surface temperature of 14 °C (57 °F) would be about -18 °C (?0.4 °F). Global warming, a recent warming of the Earth’s lower atmosphere, is believed to be the result of an enhanced greenhouse effect due to increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. In addition to the Earth, Mars and Venus have greenhouse effects.
What is the Carbon Footprint? (Sources) The carbon footprint is the direct effect your actions and lifestyle have on the environment in terms of carbon dioxide emissions. Probably the biggest contributors to your footprint are your travel needs and your electricity demands at home. However, all your actions have a direct or indirect impact on the climate, including your diet and the clothes you wear. We know cars, buses and airplanes burn gasoline, public transport may use fuels and electricity and your home uses a significant portion of your personal electricity needs that generally comes from fossil fuel burning power plants. All these actions contribute to accelerating global warming and climate change.
Why Compensate? Everyone has a responsibility to the world we live in now and the world we leave future generations. Reducing our emissions is obviously important in slowing or even reversing climate change ? but with world economies booming our carbon emissions are on the rise And as your average person doesn’t manage the power to influence huge companies or governments to change their environmental policies, there needs to be an easier and more effective solution for concerned individuals to take action on a personal level. Given that we all contribute to the problem, we should all contribute to a solution.
How to Reduce our Emissions
Reducing your emissions is a vital part of combating climate change. We encourage everyone to be aware of their energy usage and its effects and take steps to reduce this. What remains can be offset through our Carbon Free programme.
* By being more energy efficient at home, we can reduce our emissions and lower our energy bills by more than 30%.
* Adjust the air conditioner and heater when going out and shut down our system when we are away for extended periods.
* Turn off and unplug stereos, radios, TVs, DVDs and computer when we leave for hours, days or holidays. These appliances have a stand-by function that uses energy even when they are turned off.
* Close doors to unused rooms trapping heating or cooling in rooms in use.
* Consider switching to compact fluorescent lighting. Compact fluorescent light bulbs use about 75 per cent less energy than incandescent bulbs.
* Insulating the walls and ceilings can save 20 to 30 per cent of home heating bills and reduce CO2 emissions by as much as 1 tonne per year.
* Clean all of the heating and cooling appliances, making sure they are dust free. Energy is lost when heating units have to work harder to draw air through dirty filters. Ensuring that the air conditioner filter is clean can save 5 per cent of the energy used.
* Wash the dishes manually or ensure the dishwasher is full when it runs. Allow your dishes to air dry, by not using the heat in the drying cycle can save 20 per cent of the dishwasher’s total electricity use.
* Where possible walk or ride on bicycle to the destination. Fuel use through transport constitutes a large proportion of total emissions.
* Recycle glass, metals, plastics and paper.
* Plant shade trees and paint the house a light colour if we live in a warm climate or a dark colour if we live in a cold climate.
* Turn the refrigerator down.
* Select the most energy-efficient models when we replace our old appliances. Look for the Energy Star Label to assure the product saves energy and prevents pollution. * Slow down and drive sensibly. The faster and more aggressive you drive, the more petrol the car uses.
The role of trees in counters the emissions
Trees are green machines that act as natural filters of our air. Through the process of photosynthesis (a word which we learned in our primary classes, which we have to remember) they absorb carbon dioxide (a key GHG and principle contributor to global warming) from the atmosphere and store it in their trunks, branches, leaves, roots, soil and foliage, while releasing oxygen back out.
Whereas deforestation, degradation and poor forest management reduce carbon storage in forests, sustainable management, planting, and rehabilitation of forests can increase carbon sequestration. In fact, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation states global carbon retention resulting from reduced deforestation, increased forest re-growth and more agroforestry and plantations could make up for about 15% of carbon emissions from fossil fuels over the next 50 years (2006).?
Plant as much as trees Trees are not only an effective means for absorbing and storing the carbon we emit, they have far reaching benefits that extend well beyond that of filtering the air. Sustainably managed forests and urban forestry have multiple environmental and socio-economic functions important at the global, national and local scales, and play a vital part in sustainable development.
Forests are sources of wood products. They help regulate local and regional rainfall. And forests are crucial sources of food, medicine, clean drinking water, and immense recreational, visual, and spiritual benefits for millions of people.
This is the time for everyone to think, think about planting trees, you will be surprised to know, a large tree will absorb approximately 20.3 kgs of carbon dioxide per annum and figures are based on a 40-year life span of the tree. Through every day, living beings, cause carbon dioxide to be emitted into the atmosphere through the use of fossil fuels, by heating and lighting our home and cooking, etc.
To compensate the emissions, trees are a good counterbalance as they inhale or absorb carbon dioxide and exhale or emit oxygen. Of course, the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed varies between trees and the environment, which they are in but on average a large tree will absorb approximately 20.3 kgs per year over a 40 year of its lifespan.
Contributed By: Satish Nair, [email protected] – this article talks about the importance of trees in offsetting global warming and its impacts.
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