2016 – More Important Than Ever To Keep Your Cool
For years we have been reading about greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide, rising sea levels and increased temperatures. Previously people have responded mostly with eye-rolls, sighs and pointing-fingers.
But this year, 2016, the eye-rolls are now wide-eyed, the sighs are gasps and the pointed-fingers are now hands over mouths in shock.
NASA just confirmed that August was not only the hottest August ever recorded, but also the hottest month ever recorded in history. The hottest month ever recorded before that was July 2016, the hottest month recorded before that, June 2016. Actually, the record breaking temperatures have been happening continuously for months straight. Since MAY 2015!
Even before the summer temperature news broke, in May, Scientific American went ahead and called it with an article titled 99 Percent Chance That 2016 Will Be the Hottest Year on Record.
Sure, we get heat waves now and then, but this is not a wave. A wave is something that comes and goes. This heat is here to stay. And that is so not cool. We’ve gone too far to just shake it off.
Climate change naysayers always brushed off the impending high temperatures by citing that temperatures always fluctuate, which is true. However both NASA and NOAA that track temperatures say that almost 2 years of record breaking temperatures is an anomaly. And a dangerous one.
The concerns are not only that the earth is warming, but warming at a shockingly accelerated rate. Popular Science explains that without mankind intervening, the earth warmed 4 degrees celsius over the course of 22,000 years. (Glaciers used to cover New York.) However, in the past 100 years, the earth has already shot up 2 degrees celsius. That means the earth once warmed at a moderate rate of 1 degree every 5,500 years, but now it warms at a rate of 1 degree every 50 years. Imagine if you were in a car going 50 mph, and it all of a sudden started going 5,500 mph… you’d be freaking out. We should be freaking out.
Although the above graphic looks pretty, it is not. To kids, this is a rainbow, to Climatologists, this is the greatest “I told you so” ever, and to biologists and paleontologists, this shows we are in the 6th great mass extinction on planet earth.
Above is part of a new comic by physicist Randall Munroe on his website XKCD. He draws a detailed graph that has gained a lot of momentum online as it gives insight into the earth’s warming, historically speaking. The drawing explains the changes in the earth’s temperature and the effects that the temperature made on life forms and ecosystems. The most interesting part is at the end (image above) where the gradually moving line takes a sharp turn between 2000 and 2016.
This all sounds very heavy and bleak, but come on, it’s not the end of the world…right? RIGHT?
In September, After the disturbing August numbers, grim reports about earth’s future, and the most depressing comic strip ever, the US finally said enough is enough and officially signed The Paris Agreement on September 3rd.
The Paris Agreement is countries such as Brazil, China and the United States banding together behind the to reduce heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions, which would hopefully prevent the world from warming by as much as four degrees Celsius by 2100. Since China and the US are the top contributors to greenhouse gases, their changes are going to matter the most. Currently China and the US alone account for about 40 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. #TotallyEmbarassing
What can we do as individuals?
It’s important to keep your cool because individuals can do a lot. There’s the usual things to consider like fuel-efficient cars, buying a nest thermostat and solar panels on your house, but here’s a new one to consider that’s gaining momentum…
Besides water, guess what is the second most commonly used material on earth? …Concrete! Yikes. (I guessed paper.) Concrete is bad because it makes the earth hotter. So consider using stones or rocks or grasscrete for a walkway in your yard. And Avoid the Urban Heat Island (UHI) affect by using as much vegetation as possible in your home or commercial projects.
Luckily as the earth heats up, ingenious people have been coming up with cool solutions.
Now there are these alternatives to concrete, such as Ferrock, straw bales, AshCrete, Timbercrete, Mycelium (mushroom based building materials) and you can build carbon negative hemp walls with hempCrete. (I’d advise against the straw house if the story of the Three Little Pigs made a lasting impression on you.)
And check out these cool trends that can make a big difference.
*This blog was written in September 2016, but it is even more important now to understand the importance of climate solutions as Obama leaves office.
** Anyone reading this blog that doesn’t believe in global warming… Would you sit in a garage with a car running and expect not to die? No, because you know it’s bad for you. The earth is our garage, if you don’t believe it’s warming, then at least start taking care of it because we all have to live here. Even dogs have since enough not to crap where they eat. We need to learn from them.