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Mass migration and social unrest: why the west should care about climate change



The impact of climate change on developing countries is a matter of urgent concern for the developed world, too, Ilaria Bertini writes.

As many international bodies have stressed, climate change and extreme weather events will have a dramatic impact on the developing world, despite these nations being the least responsible for global greenhouse gas emissions.

The World Bank said in June that an increased temperatures of 2C would be “devastating” for south Asian and sub-Saharan countries, because of the effect it would have on food and water resources and the lack of infrastructure in these areas.

A recent study showed that countries accounting for 31% of global GDP – including India and China – will have to deal with extreme climate conditions by 2025.

However, the situation for some Pacific nations is already critical because of rising sea levels that are displacing whole communities. It is a worrying sign of things to come.

From a selfish perspective, developed or rich countries may turn their backs on this problem, ignoring the fact that globalisation has made us all deeply interconnected. But in reality, the developed world simply cannot ignore the impact climate change will have on the world’s poorest nations.

As the UN Least Developed Countries group warned in October, climate instability will cause mass migration of displaced people from vulnerable areas to regions like Europe. This is on top of the social and political unrest that is likely to spread as a result.

Alix Dietzel, from the University of Sheffield, is researching climate change in relation to global justice for her PhD.

Climate change is undoubtedly a global issue – not just because every nation is doing their bit to cause the problem but also because, as Dietzel said, emissions have no boundaries and are not fairly distributed. If emissions stayed in the place where they were pumped out, instead of floating around uncontrollably, the attitude of some rich countries would probably be quite different.

Developed countries will be less affected and in addition they will have the resources to deal with the consequences of climate change when these will arrive”, Dietzel said.

She explained that climate change was an issue of social justice also to the extent that many people see their health – and therefore their human right to life – under threat.

Extreme climate conditions will inevitably bring to a spread of many potentially deadly diseases such as diarrhoea or malaria, and poor health conditions.

Ilaria Bertini: What can effectively convince the rich world to act against climate change?

Alix Dietzel: It probably won’t be an environmental threat, at least not until much later. The biggest effects are not going to happen for another 50-60 years.

I don’t think that western countries are going to say, “Let’s help the poor”, otherwise we would have solved global poverty years ago. There will be another reason.

What might spur them on is civil engagement, so people pushing politicians that want to be elected, or coming up with a scientific breakthrough to solve climate change. Who wouldn’t want to come up with the perfect solution?

IB: What about the threat of mass immigration from vulnerable countries?

AD: Definitely. That could be another reason to act. The fact that sea levels are going to rise and that certain areas won’t be able to have crops for instance because of rainfalls and droughts will result in a huge migration of refugees.

And that’s the point with health: people in refugee camps would represent a threat for rich countries; they won’t have clean water, shelter, food. Even if western countries won’t suffer for the direct effects of climate change, they will have to deal with indirect consequences of a mass migration.

IB: What do you think about the current efforts by developing countries in fighting climate change?

AD: I don’t know what else they could do. Reducing their emissions is good but if no one else is doing it, it won’t make any difference.

They can invest in sea walls and in terms of climate negotiations, they can try to have more countries on board.

IB: Other than the ‘polluters pay’ principle, there are rich countries some in Scandinavia that emit a relatively small amount of emissions. What should they do?

AD: I think they should still have a responsibility in terms of financial assistance. We will need some sort of funds to help vulnerable countries, which by the way still have to fulfill basic needs, like access to water and nutrition. Those countries that are wealthy with low emissions can contribute financially and I think they should do that.

Further reading:

Climate change may affect national and global security

Climate change: it’s not just an environmental issue; it’s a human rights issue too

Climate change will devastate developing world, says World Bank

Climate change is a more powerful force of social unrest than any protest

The Guide to Climate Change 2013


How Going Green Can Save A Company Money



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




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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