I looked out of my bedroom one morning and the first thing. I saw in the early dawn light was a glacier. Imagine acres of ice, frozen over the years into a field of dazzling ice mostly blue. I was ofcourse looking out of a hotel room in Juneau, Alaska, District 5010 where I was invited to speak at their Conference.
Glacier ice is Earth’s largest store house of fresh water. Many rivers start from the molter water of glaciers. Water is stored as ice during the winter and melts to provide water for the thirsty plains. Glaciers form 10% of the earth’s surface. Some of the glaciers in Antarctica, the Himalayas and other very cold chimes never melt. For instance, Antarctica’s glaciers cover 5 million square miles with an average thickness of 7000ft. Imagine what would happen even if some of that ice started melting! Many of Earth’s vulnerable islands would be submerged under water. So would coastal cities like Chennai, where I live.
The Great Lakes in the United States, were created by the melting of glaciers. Global warming over the last 100 years has resulted in an increase in Earth’s temperature rising by half a degree Celsius. This has resulted in the sea level rising between 15 to 20cms. If all of the ice in Antarctica melted, the sea levels round the world would rise about 200ft! This is very unlikely, but imagine what would happen to islands and coastal areas. The ice in Greenland melting would raise the sea levels by 20ft. The water here is warmer, making it more likely.
Glaciers all over the world has been melting at least for the last 50 years. Many glaciers in Alaska and other parts of the United States, have melted drastically. Some could disappear completely. Climate change is likely to affect, coral reefs, fisheries and other marine life and resources. Rain patterns would change. There could be a cycle of droughts and floods with farmers struggling to cope with the changes in cropping patterns. Hurricanes will be more destructive and heat waves would be more scorching. These patterns will be less severe if we can adopt a greener way of living.
It is estimated that there are over 2000 islands in the world. Rising sea levels will erode coastlines and destroy natural coastal defenses like mangrove forests and coral reefs. More carbon di-oxide and salinity in the water as water dries up, will affect all sea life and through them all animals and people on the planet. Of course small islands are particularly vulnerable affected. Tourism based economies like Barbados will be severely affected. The Asia Pacific, especially those in small developing islands will be most at risk. Scientists estimated that within decades, millions of people will be displaced from their homes in the Pacific. But ironically most of the Global warming is created by the developed world. Let us reflect on this.
Everyday thousands of measurements of the earth, air, water and land are taken by weather stations, airplanes, ships, satellites and scientists all over the world. Together in a single map, they show that the most important reason for climate change is people. People like you and me who can do something about it.
What can we do?
Here are 52 ways to save money and planet Earth.
52 ways to save Money and planet Earth
• Instead of buying bottled water, put a filter on your tap water, boil it, if required, and use re-use bottles or pitchers.
• Drop the tissue in to the trash, instead of flushing and save gallons of water every time.
• When doing the laundry, only wash full loads.
• Instead of throwing away unused water or ice, save it to water your plants.
• When it rains, turn off your sprinklers and drip systems for a few days.
• Landscape with only native plants so you do not have to water them.
• Turn the water off when brushing your teeth.
• Use cloth towels instead of paper towels.
• Don’t wash your car that often when you do park it on the lawn
• When washing your car, do not let the hose run. Instead fill the bucket and use that water for cleaning.
• Buy concentrated cleaning products
• Always use cold water to wash clothes. (Yes even when using regular detergents.)
• Run your dishwasher only when it is full.
• Install low volume flush systems. ‘Use’ less water.
• Don’t use running water to thaw food.
• Install a low flow showerhead – Bathe your young children together.
• To speed up the heating of the shower, turn one bathroom faucet on to the “hot” position and run this until the shower turns warm.