According to the Global Risks Report 2021 of the World Economic Forum, the top long-term risk for the world is environmental degradation. This is the second year that the report has identified this as such. The report identified the risk with the most impact as climate action failure. This was also named as the second long-term risk for the planet.
BBC.com’s chief environment correspondent Justin Rowlatt expressed hopefulness because countries increased their carbon-cutting pledges from the ones made in the Paris climate conference in 2015. He cited that the UN estimates more than 70 percent of the world economy or more than 110 countries have set a net-zero target in carbon emissions for 2050, representing more than 65 percent of worldwide emissions. In June 2019, the UK led the net-zero commitment, followed by the European Union in March 2020, and eventually Japan and South Korea. In September 2020, China surprised the world by committing to be carbon neutral by 2060.
In the U.S., President Joe Biden committed to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 50 to 52 percent by 2030 and bring the country to net-zero emissions by 2050. According to Climate Action Tracker, though, the U.S. can only achieve net-zero by mid-century if it reduces emissions by 57 to 63 percent in the next decade.
There is much to do in the U.S. and around the world. All of us have a responsibility to ourselves and the future generation to do our share in cutting down harmful emissions and preserving existing natural resources.
The Country’s Dirty Fuel Industry
Fossil fuels like coal, natural gas, and crude oil are dirty fuels because they harm people and the Earth from the process of extraction to burning. Coal, oil, and gas production destroy and pollute vast tracts of land, destroying the ecosystem and obliterating vegetation and animals. After the end of operations, the land can not return to its natural state.
The processing of dirty fuels also contaminates streams, rivers, lakes, ocean ecosystems, and drinking water sources. Coal mining operations produce toxic airborne particulate matter that is deadly to miners and their families who live in the area. Active oil and gas wells and their transport and processing facilities, as well as the fracking industry, expose some 12.6 million Americans to toxic air pollution with benzene that leads to childhood leukemia and blood disorders, and cancer-causing formaldehyde.
Coal-fired power plants produce 42 percent of dangerous mercury emissions, two-thirds of sulfur dioxide emissions, and most of the particulate matter pollution in the country. Fossil fuel-powered land, water, and air vehicles produce poisonous carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide. The burning of fossil fuels by the power and transportation sectors makes up 75 percent of the carbon emissions of the U.S.
How You Can Help
To avoid or at least limit the use of dirty fuel, you can hire a solar company to install solar panels on your home. This will harness clean energy from the sun to supply all or part of your daily energy needs, resulting in savings on your energy bill. You will also benefit from doing this by claiming the Federal Solar Tax Credit, or Investment Tax Credit (ITC), enabling you to deduct 30 percent of the cost of the solar energy system from your federal taxes.
Replace your car with an electric or hybrid vehicle. In September 2020, California already signed a law banning the sales of new combustion engine vehicles in 2035, and Massachusetts followed suit in January 2021. In Washington, a bill passed State Legislature banning new gasoline car sales as early as 2030.
Learn how to ride a bicycle for shorter distances. This is also a good way to accomplish your aerobic exercise for the day while enjoying the outdoors.
Unless you live in Colorado, where it is illegal, set up a rain catchment system. Connect it to your toilet and urinal flushing system, landscape irrigation system, and your faucet for external washing of wall sidings and pavements.
These are just some ways you can shift your lifestyle. There are many more changes that you can do, like banning single-use plastics, purchasing refills of products to eliminate extra packaging, and not purchasing new items until your current one reaches the end of its useful life.
Do What You Can for Earth
There is only one Earth, and every human being on it breathes the same air and shares the same existing land and water resources. If we pollute the air, land, and water and waste non-renewable resources, we will all be left with nothing.
Technology can be both a bane and a boon to the planet, depending on what type of technology we choose. The wrong type and use of technology can pollute the air, land, and water. On the other hand, there is green technology that we can utilize to make life easier to protect the ecology.
We must be mindful of our ways in daily life and always choose practices and equipment that are environmentally friendly. The Earth’s well-being is failing fast, and we must act now if we are to save our home.