Environment By KENNEDY NYAVAYA
Revelations by scientists show that humans are only left with an estimated 18 months to put in place drastic plans towards sustainability in order to keep climate change at survivable levels.
Up to this moment, the world has been exposed to a series of natural disasters that range from extreme weather, rising sea levels, severe droughts, to floods, hurricanes, cyclones and wild fires.
Although largely taken as natural, the truth is that most of these tragedies are self-inflicted by the human race because of reckless carbon emissions which nature ruthlessly responds to.
Now, with this piece of information in mind, would you contribute towards keeping climate change in check?
On Wednesday, a Twitter user under the handle @savannahmaroney responded to the viral “Sco pu ta manaa?” question on the micro-blogging site by pointing out that humans only have until end of 2020 before the world gets 1,5oc hotter that is if we do not contribute to climate change
“We officially only have 18 months to reverse climate change before it’s irreversible but this tweet isn’t gonna [sic] get anywhere,” she wrote.
To her bemusement, the tweet had gained a lot of traction amassing close to 300 000 likes and over 200 000 retweets by Thursday afternoon.
While the post may not be entirely true in terms of suggesting the reversal of climate change, it’s an urgent reminder to all passive people who are unaware that their contributions towards climate action could help buy time before we face further unbearable conditions on the planet.
“Now it seems, there’s a growing consensus that the next 18 months will be critical in dealing with the global heating crisis, among other environmental challenges,” wrote BBC Environment correspondent Matt McGrath in a recent article.
“Last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC] reported that to keep the rise in global temperatures below 1,5°C this century, emissions of carbon dioxide would have to be cut by 45% by 2030,” he said describing the period between now and next year “a last chance saloon for climate change”.
The truth is that the effects of climate change cannot be over emphasized as they are now more defined now than in the past.
From successive heatwaves in Europe this summer to Wildfires in Australia and hurricanes in the US among other disasters across the world the scourge is posing real life threats daily.
Back home people have not been spared in recent years facing consecutive droughts as well as massive trails of destruction left by disasters like Cyclone Idai, which is solid evidence that we are in the midst of a climate crisis.
“As countries usually scope out their plans over five and 10-year timeframes, if the 45% carbon cut target by 2030 is to be met then the plans really need to be on the table by the end of 2020,” writes McGrath.
However, the bulk of the Paris Agreement signatory countries are off track in terms of achieving significant carbon emission reduction within the projected time frames.
This has prompted UN secretary general Antonio Guterres, to call for a special climate summit which will be held in New York on September 23 in an attempt to revise the contributions and assess the countries’ willingness.
The contribution from key political and business figures currently leaves a lot to be desired when one looks at the dieselgate scandal, US President Donald Trump’s threats to pull out of the deal and even Zimbabwe’s government’s deeper investment in coal mining as well as offers to sell to other countries.
This can only mean that climate action has become a serious individual burden for all who care about the one planet we live in if the important global targets are to be met.
What appears like small acts of conserving the environment when combined could go a long way in ensuring that we do not fast track global warming.
Interestingly, most of these actions healthy for the planet are also healthy for humans themselves hence it should not be too hard for us to implement them after all.
Do not cut down trees
Trees are our best bet for offsetting carbon emissions, which humans are struggling to reduce and so cutting forests down is tantamount to worsening the already deplorable situation. For people living in Zimbabwe right now firewood seems like a cheaper option in the midst of a grid power shortage that has resulted in over 15 hours of load shedding for urban dwellers.
However, there are other cleaner options like LP Gas, solar stoves, or even the energy efficient tsotso stove, which people should invest on.
Switch to alternative transport
Choosing to walk or cycle reasonable distances, especially within the same cities or town, is vital towards reducing the quantities of fossil fuels burnt by cars emitting carbon into our atmosphere.
This may sound impracticable in a world thrilled by speed but other cities in Europe, for example, have already embraced cycling as one of the primary modes of transport so it is doable. So before tickling your fancy with the amount of horse power an engine has, think about the gas it emits and its contribution to global warming.
Stop wasting food
Of all actions humans take, we will also need to be disciplined about what goes into our tummies as well.
Did you know that about a third of the world’s carbon emission emanates from food production alone?
This means that wasting food is a non-starter and reducing our meat consumption is even more prerequisite.
According to United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) department study, livestock are responsible for about 14,5% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
“Ruminants such as cattle, buffalo, sheep and goats produce nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide and methane, which is the most emitted gas and is released through belching,” the study reveals.
If consumption is low, farmers will be forced to scale down production and the cycle goes on so before you throw out those left overs, think about ways they can be recycled or consumed beyond being treated as garbage.
We also need to be cautious about the use of water, which is already posing great shortage threats across the globe.
Let’s talk about it
By now you may have heard about Swedish teen Greta Thunberg and the famous Fridays For Future (school strikes for climate). The narrative about climate change and the effects of past and present activities on the future is a conversation worth having anytime and anywhere. It should fill the generation gap as well as break the barriers of racial difference. Talking about the scourge of global warming is the first step towards understanding it more and ultimately taking essential steps towards adaptation and lengthening the period before we reach unbearable conditions.
Not mentioned in this article are many more ways of living sustainably and ensuring that our everyday activities have the least contributions to emissions that cause global warming. Not taking action and waiting for the minority powerful politicians to decide on what our future should look like will definitely haunt us.