Climate change is really heating up! Communities around the world are experiencing extreme heat, intense wildfires, scorched crops, water shortages, strained power grids, buckling infrastructure, and even loss of life.
It’s only July and already extreme temperatures are reaching new heights and setting records. In Texas, temperatures have exceeded 110 F° in parts of the state, causing a spike in heat-related illnesses and rolling blackouts. Both Austin and San Antonio have already topped their records for hottest summers ever, and it’s not even August.
In Spain, wildfires have burned more than 193,268 hectares of land and extreme heat in the United Kingdom has melted streets, airport runways, and traffic signals and have caused dozens of wildfires near London. This current European heat wave has accounted for more than 4,600 deaths in Portugal, Spain, Germany, and Britain in June and July 2022 — and it’s not over yet.
Climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of life-endangering extreme heat events. Extreme temperatures can exacerbate drought, in turn decimating crop yields and increasing the risk of wildfires.
Higher temperatures also create a greater chance of more intense storms, including hurricanes and tornadoes. Higher temperatures evaporate more water from the surface of our oceans, and warmer air holds more moisture, both of which create greater chance for extreme precipitation events which can lead to flash flooding and mudslides.
Extreme heat is increasingly posing risks to our health too. Beside dehydration, extreme temperatures can cause heart attacks, heat stroke, organ failure, and respiratory illnesses.
We must act now to combat these deadly heat waves! Fortunately, there are things we can all do to help mitigate climate change to help prevent even more extreme temperatures.
1. Use less Fossil Fuels
Scientists agree that climate change is caused by greenhouse gas emissions and Fossil Fuels are responsible for more than 25 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Offset your Carbon Footprint. Lead by example by knowing your carbon footprint and offset it; but make sure that your offset leads to a measured reduction in carbon emissions. Adjust your thermostat and make home improvements to reduce energy use. If you can, switch to renewable energy like solar or wind. Reduce gasoline consumption with little changes like walking or biking when possible. Carpool or ride share with a neighbor and consolidate your shopping to one day. Consider an electric vehicle for your next purchase.
2. Reduce Single Use Plastics
Plastics production accounts for 4-8% of annual oil consumption. The plastics industry in the United States alone is on pace to eclipse the carbon footprint of the country’s remaining coal-fired power plants by the end of this decade. Every step from production to disposal of plastics releases greenhouse gasses. When plastics enter our landfills and waterways, they leak pollutants into the environment. Just switching to a refillable water bottle, you can save an average of 156 plastic bottles annually. Reducing single-use plastics and recycling will make a difference in your own personal carbon footprint and reduce the billions of items of plastic currently choking our oceans, lakes, and rivers.
3. Eat less Meat
Producing the livestock we eat generates as much climate pollution each year as do all the tailpipe emissions from all the vehicles in the world! This doesn’t mean you have to give up meat entirely- small changes in your diet can make big changes for the planet as well as your health. Try eliminating meat for one meal each day or incorporating “Meatless Monday” into your menu schedule. Have smaller portions or try plant-based meat options.
4. Plant a tree.
Trees absorb CO2 as they grow through the process of photosynthesis and are extremely important in combatting climate change. When trees perform photosynthesis, they pull carbon dioxide out of the air, bind it up in sugar to build its trunk, branches, and roots, and convert it into the oxygen we all need to live. Trees mostly store the carbon in its wood and roots, releasing only small amounts of carbon to the soil as its roots capture nutrients and water or when its leaves decompose. While planting one tree won’t reverse climate change, every tree counts. Plus, trees provide shade and help to mitigate extreme heat!
5. Get Involved!
Educate yourself about Climate Change issues and talk about it to help educate your friends, family, and neighbors. Contact your elected officials and let them know how you feel. Volunteer with Climate Change initiatives. There are hundreds of environmental organizations that can use your help, like Flamingo Gardens’ Eco-teers.
You can help the Eco-teers collect mangrove propagules on August 27 in an effort to protect our Florida Coastline and absorb carbon. To join or for more information contact [email protected] or visit The Eco-teers!