Climate Change Remedies
This page lists climate change remedies and global warming solutions that are especially important for healthcare and other professionals to understand, adopt and promote.
Great Opportunity for LeadershipAlthough the majority of citizens in the developed nations of the world acknowledge the reality of global warming and the seriousness of climate change, a very large proportion of citizens remain poorly informed and confused on the science. Therefore leadership on the issue is urgently required — and this opportunity is salient for all of the professions and our leading institutions.
The health professions have the greatest natural opportunity of all the professions to assist in the response to global warming and climate change.
By happy coincidence the factors for improving personal and population health are also the factors for mitigating against global warming and climate change. What is best for our health is now essential for the health of the planet — and also now essential for the survival of huge populations of the most climate change vulnerable and for the survival of future generations.
Top Opportunity — Plant-Based DietWhat is the most readily available measure that will most immediately improve individual health and the health of the planet in general?
Diet. The answer is to improve our dietary choices and habits. A plant-based (vegetarian, or preferably vegan) diet is good for our health and good for the planet's health.
Health professionals are well aware of the impacts of diet on personal health and well-being, but might not be aware of the impacts of diet on then environment, including its contribution to global warming. The benefits of the vegetarian diet to human health and to the health of the planet have been known for a great many years. Global warming and climate change make the conversion from a meat-heavy diet to a plant-based diet essential.
Global warming, climate change and ocean acidification are the greatest sources of damage to the health of the planet (specifically, the life supporting biosphere) and they have a multiplying effect on other ongoing, pre-existent, global environmental degradations.
All greenhouse gases matter.
The basic science of greenhouse gases and global warming makes our approach to mitigation fairly straightforward.
The greenhouse gas that everyone knows about is carbon dioxide. What we forget about carbon dioxide is that over 30 percent of industrial carbon dioxide emissions are absorbed by the oceans, which have undergone rapid acidification as a result.
The three main greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide — are all long lasting in the atmosphere and, because of their sources, they are constantly being emitted. It follows that to stop global warming, it is necessary to virtually stop our industrial age emissions of these three greenhouse gases.
Carbon dioxide is non-reactive in the atmosphere and about 20 percent of carbon dioxide emissions will last in the atmosphere, radiating heat, for 1000 years. Global warming therefore cannot be stopped without stopping the emission of carbon dioxide — so-called zero carbon emissions.
Methane is chemically reactive in the atmosphere and lasts only about 12 years, but over this period of time its heating capacity is approximately 100 times that of carbon dioxide. (The IPCC figure is 72 times the heatforcing effect of carbon dioxide over 20 years.) To add to the importance of methane, nothing actually disappears from the atmosphere at 12 years because it is oxidised to other greenhouse gases: water vapour, ozone and carbon dioxide. Therefore industrial emissions of methane also have to be eliminated in order to stop global warming.
Two Sectoral Sources of Emissions to CurbGenerally speaking, and to make things simple, there are two broad sectoral origins of greenhouse gas emissions, both of which emit the three main greenhouse gases.
- Fossil fuel energy production
- Human energy production (ie, food production)
1. Fossil Fuel Energy Production
The sector that immediately comes to mind is the production of energy by fossil fuel combustion. This, of course, involves heating and air conditioning for homes and buildings, energy for the various forms of transportation, and energy for industry and manufacturing. Fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) emit carbon dioxide and to some extent methane and nitrous oxide in their production and combustion.
2. Food Production
The other sector in this broad division, which receives little attention, is industrial food production. After fossil fuel combustion, another significant source of carbon dioxide emissions is deforestation. Most of the deforestation nowadays results from clearing forests for livestock pasture. The industrial food production system is also a major cause of carbon dioxide emissions. A big source of methane is the gut of ruminant livestock, with cattle very much predominating. Animal manure emits ammonia, which is converted in the air to the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide. Furthermore, industrial chemical-intensive agriculture relies on nitrogen fertilizers, which are a big source of nitrous oxide.
This situation persists unabated as the Western meat/animal-based diet habit becomes globalized.
The two largest sources of chronic diseases in industrial civilization (fossil fuel pollution and poor diet) are the same two sectoral sources of the majority of greenhouse gas emissions. This "coincidence" allows physicians and other healthcare professionals to take the lead in promoting a plant-based diet as one of the best climate change remedies.
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