We have seen what Global Warming is and its effects of global warming in earlier posts. Here we shall look into some of the effective solutions & measures for global warming.
Global warming is a phenomenon that is inevitable. Atmospheric temperature has been on the rise. For every 2 Fahrenheit increase, many changes of variable nature occur in the weather, earth’s surfaces and to the diverse ecosystems which cannot be repaired.
Though the greenhouse effect is a natural process that enables the earth to maintain its atmospheric temperature and regulate climate, global warming is man- induced. The emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from energy sources, agriculture, motor vehicle emissions and industries are the main causes for this.
As per scientific studies, if the GHGs concentration increases uninterrupted, there can be an increase of up to 10 Fahrenheit. According to the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change the global GHGs emissions must be brought down 50-80% to stabilize its concentrations.
A combination of strategies is needed to cut the GHGs emissions. Many of them are in place now but have to scaled up to reduce emission levels
Solution 1: Energy efficiency
Energy production and consumption is major contributor to GHGs emissions. Hence better practice management of its production and its by products will reduce the GHGs levels.
- Making sure the energy produced is efficiently utilized at the consumer’s end. Avoiding over use and wastage must become a part of our lifestyle.
- Improving processes and developing technology that ensures maximum energy extraction from fossil based fuels – to reduce the quantity and avoid wastage of raw material.
- Shifting to renewable sources of energy such as wind, water, geothermal and solar energy wherever applicable as soon as possible. Some studies say the wind energy generation must be increased by 10 times and solar energy generation by 100 times to cut out 1 billion tons of carbon emissions each year by the year 2060.
- In addition to this, increasing the production of bio mass fuels or plantations in 1/6 of the world crop lands for production of ethanol will add to the ability to reduce carbon emissions from fossil fuel based energy plants.
- Nuclear energy is an alternate source of clean energy which has the added requirement that it must be safely harnessed and waste material correctly disposed.
- Improving the capacity to recapture carbon dioxide from fossil fuels and store it – carbon sequestration.
Europe has been historically responsible for the advent of global warming due to heavy industrialization. But since the end of the last century it has begun actively participating in the reducing its carbon emission in various ways. Switching to cleaner renewable fuel for their energy needs has brought down emissions by 7 per cent. Some European countries have also made financial commitments with developing countries to help them with low energy carbon sources, reduce deforestation etc.
Solution 2: Natural sinks
These are the forests and agricultural lands that work to remove carbon dioxide and other GHGs from the atmosphere. The natural carbon and nitrogen cycles take place in green plants.
- There must be a drastic decrease in the rate of deforestation. The timber and paper industry are the main consumers of our forests and in some instances wood is the energy resource for communities.
- Deforestation to increase land area for agriculture or grazing must also be stopped.
- If trees must be cut down there must be a simultaneous planting and replenishment of forest areas, to maintain these natural sinks.
- Improving practices in agriculture mainly in waste management techniques , irrigation methods and conservative tillage is necessary for agricultural communities.
A very important natural sink in South America was the lush Amazon jungles which are now in a pitiable state. Reduction of deforestation by Brazil over the last five years has made an impact on reducing carbon emissions.
Solution 3: Green Transportation
Another major contributor to global warming is emissions from burning of transport fuels like petroleum and diesel.
- There is a need to reduce the number of vehicles on the roads. This can be done by improving public transport facilities. Carpooling, cycling and walking are options to be taken seriously.
- Regular maintenance of the vehicle and correct driving practices will enable the vehicle to be fuel efficient.
- Fitting the vehicles with catalytic converters and fuel filters must be made mandatory.
- Switching to electric mode of transport ie using electricity as fuel is a cleaner option for the future.
An interesting study was done in the US recently to study the services of ride hailing companies like Uber and Lyft. The claim was that they would ease the congestion on the roads by encouraging people to use ride sharing vehicles. But the study suggested that such companies were pulling riders off public transport or their own feet and putting them in cars instead. Many riders were not using ride sharing cars to connect to a subway or bus line, but as a separate mode of transport instead. Thus it increases the congestion.
Solution 4: Princeton’s Stabilization wedges
Scientists Stephen Pacala and Robert H Socolow at the Princeton University have come up with an approach to tackle the stabilization of CO2 emissions using commercially available technology today. This can be approached as a series of wedges which are the strategies enumerated above. Today there are about 12-14 wedges. The scientists concluded that if the above measures (individual wedges) are implemented in an aggressive mode as early as possible, it can control CO2 emissions to 1 billion tons each year.
As a result, by 2050 we should be able to bring CO2 levels to an average of 450 to 500 ppm globally. The key factor is to start implementing the changes immediately. Even a year delay will increase the financial cost and GHGs levels exponentially.
Economically and technologically we are ready to handle the global warming. But the question is are we politically ready. It is the developed countries such as the US and European countries that are leading in CO2 emissions, with developing countries like India and China following very closely. Each of these should take their responsibility seriously and have working policies and active regulations in place to reduce their contribution to climate changes, as well as help the poorer nations who are actually suffering the consequences, to adopt solutions to combat global warming.