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How old is the climate change debate?

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A lot of people have fallen into believing that climate change is an issue raised in the very latter part of the 20th century. In fact, climate change has been well known by scientists and been in the public domain for over 189 years.

Climate change is a term that those living in the 21st century have become very familiar with. Covered in many news headlines, often in stark for or against terms, readers, listeners and viewers has been constantly reminded about the growing concern of climate change, its causes and consequences.

With a growing body of recent research and public attention it has lead many thinking that human-caused (anthropogenic) climate change is a relatively new discovery. With entrepreneurs, conservationists, climate scientists and some politicians promoting solutions, many feel that we are on the road to finding one.

But this is not necessarily the case.

Climate change has actually been in the public domain for over 189 years, dating back to as early as 1824. Today’s research which exposes the effects of human actions on the environment  has found similar results to those of the 1820’s and 1950’s. This issue has been talked about endlessly for decades and virtually nothing significant has been done.

The first to reveal climate change to the general pubic was the French physicist Joseph Fourier. Describing the Earth’s natural ‘greenhouse effect’, back in 1824, he wrote The temperature [of the Earth] can be augmented by the interposition of the atmosphere, because heat in the state of light finds less resistance in penetrating the air, than in re-passing into the air when converted into non-luminous heat.”

In 1861, Irish physicist John Tyndall demonstrated how water vapour and other gases created the ‘green house effect’.

The exploration of climate change was further enhanced in 1900 by Knut Angstrom, who discovered that tiny concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere absorbed parts of the infrared spectrum. This backed up Tyndall’s work on how the build up of green house gases produced warming.

The 1930’s saw British engineer Guy Callender finding a link between raising temperatures and carbon dioxide concentrations over the same period. His “Callendar effect” theory, which suggested increased concentrations caused by warming, was largely opposed by meteorologists at the time.

During 1955, US researcher Gilber Plass analysed the infrared absorption of various gases, and found that doubling carbon dioxide emissions would raise temperatures by 3-4C.

Within the same year, Hans Suess’s carbon-14 isotope analyses found that carbon dioxide released from fossil fuels was not immediately absorbed by the ocean as many had assumed. This was further investigated in 1957 when Rodger Revelle, US oceanographer, better understood the chemistry of the ocean, realising that its surface had limited ability to absorb carbon dioxide.

The following year, Charles David Keeling provided the first evidence of rising carbon dioxide levels from measuring atmospheric carbon dioxide over four years within Hawaii and the Antarctica.

By the end of the 1950’s, a coalition of scientists argued that carbon dioxide emissions could be problematic to the environment. Scientists warned that if their predictions of a 25% increase of carbon dioxide emissions by 2000 were met, ‘radical’ effects on the climate would be seen.

These climate change issues were publicly aired. Many discoveries hit newspaper headlines and film director Frank Capra, created an educational film on climate change.

The film entitled “The Unchained Goddess” starred Dr. Frank C Baxter, an English professor at the University of Southern California. The film states that man may be unwittingly changing the world’s climate through the waste products of his civilization.

Giving an example of how the melting ice caps as a result of global warming would leave tourists sailing glass bottom boats on the remains of the Mississippi valley, was one analogy the film used to address climate change within classrooms.

If the message has failed to get across over the last two centuries then how do we stand a chance today? Climate sceptics are on the loose, manipulating statistics and creating myths about climate change to keep us hooked on unsustainable practices and resources to continue making their own unsustainable investments flourish.

Meanwhile, with climate change being removed from the UK’s national curriculum, we are further preventing future generations from understanding the impacts of our actions.

How many more studies need to pass unnoticed despite its common ground with results from 189 years ago? Will it really take a series of huge disasters that directly affects developed nations’ security to make us realise how vulnerable we are to climate change?

Detaching ourselves from, and ignoring our impact on our environment is the greatest threat to humanity.

Maybe it is time we start taking notice?

 

Further reading:

Arctic sea ice loss is the cause of UK’s frozen spring, say scientists

Climate change to be removed from national curriculum

Setting a sustainable example in our education system

Environmental threats to be addressed by UN sustainable development goals

The very well-funded war against climate science and all of us

Economy

How Going Green Can Save A Company Money

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going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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Energy

5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable

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sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

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