This Past Summer Has Been Brutal
In the Northern Hemisphere, it is the dog days of late August 2023. The last few months have been brutal all over the globe with heat, drought, severe storms, floods, fires (and smoke), and even earthquakes in Northeast Ohio! We have seen extreme weather events in Vermont, Canada, China, Hawaii, Europe, and the SW United States. For example, last month in July 2023, our planet broke or tied a record for the hottest day on record, four days in a row. Phoenix AZ also had a record-breaking stretch of 31 days above 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Dry heat or not, 110 degrees is HOT! Even some of our ocean water has been like a sauna.
The Number of Extreme Weather Events are Rapidly Rising
The number of extreme weather events in every corner of the world has been on a rapid rise over the past 30 years. Experts warn that climate change is supercharging these extreme events. The intense heat as well as extreme rainfall events are becoming more frequent, severe, and are lasting longer than ever before. The intense heat has caused failures in infrastructure, especially the electrical grid, industry, the food supply, vehicles, and human health. If you are poor and cannot afford air conditioning, your health is at risk. These weather problems seem to be getting worse.
What You Think or Believe Is Irrelevant
The evidence that the planet is getting hotter is undeniable. What you think or believe about the impact of human life is irrelevant. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) average annual global temperatures have increased steadily since the 1960s. It is getting hotter. This is a undeniable fact.
Around the year 1880 (143 years ago), we started taking accurate temperature readings. Temperature readings do not lie. You cannot fudge them. Scientists know the temperature through evidence compiled from satellites, weather balloons, thermometers, and weather stations.
Since 1880, average global temperatures have increased by about 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit. Global temperature is projected to warm by about 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit by 2050 and 3.6-7.2 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100. Most experts say that a rise of 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial temperature levels is a likely tipping point. Are we ready?
According to climate scientists, a tipping point is a critical threshold that when crossed, will lead to large and irreversible changes in the climate system. These changes will have severe impact on human life. However, how fast we reach these tipping points or how fast the earth’s climate will be affected are not known.
Experts have been surprised at how fast our earth seems to be careening toward these tipping points. It is possible that that some tipping points may have already been crossed or are close to being crossed. If these thresholds are passed, some of global warming’s effects—like the thaw of permafrost, thawing of glaciers, flooding, or the loss of the world’s coral reefs—are likely to happen more quickly than expected.
Excessive Heat Can Kill You
Research involving dozens of scientists around the world found that more than 5 million people die each year from excessively hot or cold conditions. These researchers also reported that heat-related deaths are on the rise. For example, in the summer of 2022, nearly 62,000 people died in Europe from heat!
In the U.S. in 2004, a total of 297 Americans died of excessive heat. However, by 2021, that number had increased to 1,600, a 439% increase from 2004! In 2022, that number again increased to 1,714 people. Heat related deaths are increasing.
The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta Georgia reports that older adults, the very young, the poor, and people with mental illness and chronic diseases are at the greatest risk for heat-related illnesses and deaths resulting from heat stroke, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, or cerebrovascular disease. However, even young and healthy people can be affected. For example, about 20% heat-related deaths occur in Americans ages 15 to 44.
Climate Change Deniers
Some continue to believe that climate change is a hoax and that humans have no role in global warming. As I said earlier, it really does not matter what you believe. Facts are facts. There is clear and indisputable evidence that the planet and its oceans are getting hotter. Temperature readings do not lie.
Many of the deniers are politicians of certain political party who are funded by the fossil fuel industry. All you have to do is follow the money. The fossil fuel industry has a vested interest in denying climate change and has paid others to say so!
Think what it would mean to the fossil fuel industry if we transitioned to a clean energy economy. It would mean a loss of profit to them and their stockholders would not be happy!
In fact, many of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies have knowingly deceived the public about climate science and policy and continue to do so today. Do not be deceived!
The deniers often say the climate always changed naturally in the past. Thus, the current warming trend must be natural. They also say the current warming trend is not caused by humans but by natural factors such as solar activity or volcanoes. They assert that the effects of climate change are not as bad as others make them out to be. Uh huh. Keep trying to persuade me.
Direct Observation Tells a Different Story
However, my direct observation tells me a different story. You and I see and feel the evidence of a warming planet. We see and feel the evidence of heat, drought, severe storms, floods, fires (and smoke), and even earthquakes!
Even though there is plenty of published, peer-reviewed research that shows that climate change is occurring much faster that it has in the past, climate change deniers refuse to admit it. It is obvious they do not believe in (or perhaps do not read) peer-reviewed research.
The Past and the Future
In 1988, a NASA scientist appeared before the United State Senate and warned the world that the planet was heating. You can read it here: https://www.thecooldown.com/green-tech/james-hansen-nasa-scientist-climate-change-warning/
In a recent statement from this expert and two other scientists, he predicted the warming of the planet will accelerate in the coming years. He said that the climate problems we are now experiencing are new normal for our grandchildren. He said that we are headed knowingly into a new reality that we knew was coming but did nothing about.
I tend to agree with him. Our elected leaders are not “capable of a more intelligent response” and humanity’s lack of action to climate change “means we are damned fools. We have to taste it to believe it.” Now we are getting a taste of what is in store in the future.
Steps that You Can Take
Below are 10 things that you can do NOW to slow or decrease global warming:
- Speak up! Get involved at the grass roots level. Join a social movement or campaign that focuses on environmental activities and gets everyone talking about climate change action. Make your voice heard by those in power. Send letters. Send emails. Make phone calls. Show up at meetings. Tell your congressional representatives and senators, your local city council people, county commissioners, and your mayor that you think action on climate change is important. What your children and grandchildren will experience largely depends on their decisions about the environment, green spaces, roads, cycling infrastructure, waste and recycling, air quality and energy efficient homes. Talk more about politics, not less!
- Power Your Home with Renewable Energy: Choose a utility company that generates at least half its power from wind or solar and has been certified by Green-e Energy, an organization that vets renewable energy options. If that is not possible for you, take a look at your electric bill; many utilities now list other ways to support renewable sources on their monthly statements and websites.
- Eat Less Meat and Dairy: Avoiding meat and dairy products is one of the biggest ways to reduce your environmental impact on the planet. Eating a high-fiber, plant-based diet is also better for your health, and replacing meat with non-meat foods that are protein-rich can also be cost-effective. Experts tell us we need to reduce our meat intake by 30% by 2032 to meet health, climate and nature commitments. Eat fewer or smaller portions of meat, especially beef and lamb, which has the largest environmental impact, and reduce dairy products or switch to non-dairy alternatives. Choose fresh, seasonal produce that is grown locally to help reduce the carbon emissions from transportation, preservation and prolonged refrigeration. When eating out plan ahead and use apps to find more plant-based options.
- Cut Back on Flying: Transportation is the largest emitting sector of most developed countries. Therefore, if you need to fly for work, consider using video-conferencing instead. For trips in the same country or continent, take the train or explore options using an electric car. When flying is unavoidable, pay a little extra for carbon offsetting. For leisure trips, choose nearby destinations and fly economy. On average, a passenger in business class has a carbon footprint three times higher than someone in economy.
- Respect and Protect Green Spaces: Green spaces, such as parks, forests, and gardens, are important. They absorb carbon dioxide and are associated with lower levels of air pollution. They also help to regulate temperature by cooling urban areas, can reduce flood risk by absorbing surface rainwater, and can provide important habitat for a wide variety of insects, animals, birds and amphibians. Green spaces also provide multiple benefits to public health, with studies linking green space to reduced levels of stress. You can help by creating your own green space. Add potted plants to your window sill or balcony. Do not replace the grass with paving or artificial turf. Plant trees. Join a community volunteering charity that brings people together to connect to nature, and create healthier and happier communities.
- Leave the Car at Home: Walk or cycle instead of driving – and enjoy the physical and mental health benefits, and the money saved. For longer journeys, use public transport, try car sharing schemes, or consider investing in an e-bike. Not only do cars contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, but air pollution caused by exhaust fumes and tire wear poses a serious threat to public health. Air pollution negatively affects the health of unborn babies, increases the risk of dementia, increases hospital admissions for asthma and serious lung conditions, and is associated with 30,000 deaths annually. If driving is unavoidable, look into trading your gas or diesel car for an electric vehicle. If you drive a lot, you could save substantially on fuel costs. When behind the wheel, think about the way you drive. Switch off the engine when you are in “park.” Make sure the tires are fully inflated and that the oxygen sensors are in good order. Drive smoothly.
- Reduce Your Energy Use and Bills: Small changes to your behavior at home will help you use less energy and reduce your carbon footprint and your energy bills. When it is cold outside, put on an extra layer and turn down the heat a degree or two to 63 degrees Fahrenheit for suitably dressed people. Turning down the temperature on the thermostat can save you 9% on your gas bills. Likewise in the summer, use open windows and fans until it gets really hot. Then turn up the thermostat to 74 or 75 degrees for suitably dressed people. Make simple changes as to how you use hot water, like buying a water-efficient shower head, water efficient toilets, and only using the washing machine on warm wash only when full. Avoid polluting wood burners and learn about more energy efficient ways to cook – including putting a lid on pans, and using a slow cooker, air fryer, or microwave as opposed to the oven or a barbecue. Turn off lights and appliances when you do not need them. Replace light bulbs with LEDs or other low-energy lights.
- Bank and Invest Money Responsibly: Banks, pension funds, and big corporations often hold investments in fossil fuel companies. Contact your bank, credit union, or pension provider to find out where they are investing your money, and ask if you can opt out of funds investing in fossil fuels. Make your money matter! Invest in sustainable options. Such factors should be considered when investing money. There are also a number of ‘ethical banks’ you can consider for various accounts, including current and savings accounts.
- Cut Down on your Consumption and Waste: It is important to realize that everything we use as consumers has an environmental footprint. Everything we use, our children and grandchildren will have to deal with. Therefore, be mindful of your consumption: try not to buy more than you need, and embrace the value of your current belongings. Extend your product’s lifespan. Repair, reuse, upcycle and customize your items instead of discarding them. Buy second-hand from thrift stores and charity shops, or buy quality items that last longer. Make informed purchases by choosing brands that align with your eco-friendly values. Demand transparency from retailers and beware of greenwashing. Trace your product’s journey by reading labels to learn about human and material resources used. Avoid single-use items, especially plastics. Let brands know if you think they are using too much packaging – some will take customer feedback seriously. Ask for your purchases to be presented in recycled or minimal packaging. Minimize food waste by planning meals and properly storing leftovers, and consider composting organic waste. Sort your waste into the right categories so it can be recycled properly. If you do not have appropriate bins, speak up and advocate for improved waste management.
- Talk About the Changes that you Made: Conversations are a great way to spread big ideas. Seeing others act helps move the dial on what is seen as ‘normal’ and people make more confident choices when they can learn from others’ experience. As you make these positive changes to reduce your environmental impact, share your experience with your family, friends, customers and clients. Talk positively, and be honest about the ups and downs. Thinking about the climate crisis can bring up intense, overwhelming feelings, such as worry, sadness, guilt and anger. These can be hard to cope with, especially if you have friends, relatives, or neighbors who are client change deniers or who do not believe or understand research. Persuading such people that climate change is real can lead to both mental health impacts and feelings of paralysis that prevent you from taking effective action to address the crisis. Don’t let others influence you. You influence others! There is growing evidence that climate change can have direct and indirect effects on mental health. Researchers and experts around the world are committed better understanding the problem and developing appropriate responses. If you are struggling with eco-anxiety, we can help you find meaningful ways to channel your concerns into action.
The 1795 Group Can Help
We care a lot about the world that we will leave for those who will follow in our footsteps. We want our ancestors to enjoy the type of world that we have enjoyed. That’s why we do what we do. We believe in being part of solutions. Let us help you.
Perhaps you would like a guest speaker or a presentation on climate change or environmental health. Perhaps you would like to have your students, learners, or employees enjoy an in-person or virtual professional development workshop in this topical area. Perhaps you need a course to be written for your learners. Whatever your need, the 1795 Group can help. Call us and let’s brainstorm ways to work together.
Contact me today:
Phone: (419) 359- 5798 (text first)