It’s hard for people to grasp the devastating reality of global warming. Yes, we’re seeing record-breaking summers, polar vortexes and the worst drought in the history of California. But is it drastically affecting our individual lives, here and now? Not really. And that’s why no one gets it.
So let me paint a picture: Within 45 years, hundreds of millions of people from major cities like New York, London and Paris may be fleeing for safety because the homes they once knew have become uninhabitable. Within 85 years, Miami may be completely under water. Between 150 and 200 species are going extinct every day—a rate that is 1,000 times faster than what’s “natural” (i.e. before humans started messing with the environment). Which means that by the end of the century, up to 50% of all species on Earth could be extinct. And ultimately, humans will join its ranks.
Extinction is part of the evolutionary process. All species eventually die out. Humans, however, will be the first to do it to themselves.
Some scientists think that the damage is irrevocable. Others believe that the Earth’s climate has yet to pass its tipping point. All of them agree that something has to be done. So today, on Earth Day, we urge you to do your part. Go green. There are seven billion people in this world, and if everyone did one, small thing, it could have a huge impact on what’s to come.
To make it easier for you, I've laid out 15 ways you can save our future.
- Use alternative forms of transportation: public transit, bike, vanpool, carpool or walk. Transportation accounts for 24% of our carbon emissions.
- If you have to drive, make sure it’s a fuel-efficient, low greenhouse gas emission vehicle.
- Be water conscious. Only launder a full load, use a low-flow showerhead and brush your teeth without running the water.
- Switch to reusable grocery bags.
- Limit your waste! Trash gets tossed into landfills and decomposes into methane, a far more active greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
- Recycle your old cell phone. More than 140 million cell phones will end up in a landfill this year, comprising 70% of all toxins.
- Use green cleaning products.
- Rethink bottled water. Last year, Americans used 50 billion plastic water bottles. That’s 1,500 bottles per second, enough energy to power 190,000 homes. Nearly 90% of water bottles aren’t recycled.
- Recycle glass. It reduces air pollution by 20% and water pollution by 50%. Glass can take a million years to decompose.
- Switch to ENERGY STAR certified light bulbs, and turn off all lights and electronic devices when you aren’t using them.
- Buy local. Consider how much pollution it takes to get your food from the farm to your table.
- Pay your bills online and stop junk mail and paper statements.
- Use one less napkin. On average, we use six every day. That’s 2,200 a year. One less napkin means more than a billion pounds of napkins saved from landfills annually.
- Use your own coffee cup or thermos both at work and for that morning commute.
- Adjust your thermostat. One degree higher in the summer and one degree cooler in the winter will save about 10% of energy use.