Written by Ali Versi for Africa-OnTheRise
If you were to make a list of all the challenges that the world is facing today, surely you’ll come up with a long list, with the most pressing challenges on the top. Without a doubt, terrorism would make it to number one, and it should. Today, the challenge of terrorism is claiming the lives of thousands around the world and has resulted in millions of refugees. Initially, the threat was limited to certain borders, but gradually it exported to beyond the borders. If this challenge is not confronted seriously, there will come a time whereby the whole world will be a victim of this threat.
Another similar challenge that the world is facing today is the issue of climate change. This is arguably the second most pressing challenge that needs to be addressed. Similar to terrorism, the threat of climate change “does not respect national borders” in the words of the UN Chief Mr. Ban Ki-Moon. As I write this, more than 150 heads of states and world leaders have gathered in Paris for a two week conference to discuss and come up with a framework on how to tackle the alarming threat of climate change. Despite the fact that Paris is in a state of emergency following the deadly terrorist attacks, yet world leaders defiantly insisted for this conference to remain as planned. After all, what could be a better response to the face of the terrorists that world leaders are adamant upon protecting the world that they want to destroy?
Scientists have made it clear that climate change is happening, but they didn’t end there. They added that it is happening at a much faster pace than we think it is. A rise in the global temperate of as low as just 2 degrees Celsius can cause serious problems for the citizens of the earth irrespective of the borders. Scientists have also made it clear that climate change is caused by human activities. It is therefore our duty and responsibility to clean up the mess that we have caused and take things into our own hands, before it is too late.
Here are four things we can do, as citizens of the globe, to protect the one and only home of ours:
As you might know it, there are famously known as the “4R’s.” These are the steps that we can take to lower our carbon footprint and emission of green house gases.
The first and foremost step is to “reduce” the use of our resources. By using less, we are automatically minimizing wastage of natural resources. To put it simply, a reduced demand will result in a reduced supply. Examples of how we can reduce our usage are: printing or writing on both sides of the paper, avoiding electronic purchases (unless necessary), walking or cycling instead of driving (healthier and no traffic jams to worry about), using public transport or travelling in groups, avoid flights if there are other options, sharing stuff with friends and family instead of buying multiple and many more. So let us reduce the usage of resources and make the maximum usage of the material that we already possess, which brings us to the second step.
The second step is to reuse what we already have. By doing this, we are avoiding unnecessary purchases and making the utmost use of our stuff. Examples of how we can reuse are: avoiding disposables, refilling bottles, buying second hand, dismantling old/damaged things into spare parts which could be useful, repairing instead of abandoning, passing on out-grown clothes to younger siblings, preserving/storing stuff for future use, and many more. A useful tip for reusing is to invest in long lasting and durable products.
In this step, we give resources a second life instead of throwing or disposing them away. This avoids duplication, keeps the resources in circulation, and instead the resources can be used for other purposes. Many companies and industries are willing to purchase scrap material in order to cut down their costs for production. Plastic bottles, jugs, styrofoam, ketchup bottles, shampoo bottles, paper, glass, aluminum, tin, steel and other such items are all recyclable which can be dumped at specific locations for recycling.
This final step requires us to be conscious about our activities and reflect on what impacts our actions would have on the environment. We need to be careful that none of our actions cause harm and damage to our surroundings and environment. In this step, we can pressure our peers, family, community members and society to join us in minimizing wastage. As citizens, we need to demand our governments to invest in recycling plants and pass laws which require citizens to participate and cooperate in the protection of their environment.
By the end of the summit in Paris, the heads of states and world leaders will have come up with a frame work binding on all countries on how they can act to reduce climate change. Developed countries have pledged a sum of $100 billion to help developing countries tackle this issue. After all that effort put in by world leaders and all that money invested in this cause, the ball is now in our court. It is upon us individually to take action to protect our one and only home. It is upon us to make this work. If we don’t take the necessary actions, we will never be able to achieve the targets that have been set. We are the first generation to feel the effects of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it. We have the power to change to future. So let us start taking action right here, right now. Take action today! Small steps make a difference, if we all do our bit. So the next time you leave your bedroom, don’t forget to switch off the lights!