Climate change is the greatest ecological challenge of our time, threatening human, animal and plant populations across the world. Once a debated issue, climate change has now become a well-agreed upon fact. Over 41,000 scientists from the American Geophysical Union, US National Academy of Sciences and the American Meteorological Society agree that the situation is both real and dire. Deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels are two of the main causes of changing climate. These two practices lead to the buildup of several greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, notably carbon dioxide. Greenhouse gases serve as a barrier to the infrared radiation that is reflected off the Earth’s surface. This barrier prevents the radiation from escaping the atmosphere, resulting in an increase in temperature in the lower atmosphere and at the Earth’s surface. The effect of climate change will be shifting weather patterns that result in natural catastrophes such as flooding; weather anomalies such as the increased frequency of hurricanes recently witnessed in the United States; and a rise in sea level that will cause coastal flooding around the world.
It is possible to make purchases that are less harmful to the atmosphere. The table below outlines some basic ideas to keep in mind when purchasing products in order to have a minimal impact:
|Buy recycled content||When feasible, look for products—particularly paper—that are made from recycled content. Doing so will help decrease the trees that must be cut down and the barrels of oil burned during virgin resource extraction.|
|Avoid petroleum products||Petroleum based products can have a high energy cost associated with them, which usually equates to the burning of more fossil fuel. (See the Plastic and Rubber sections.)|
|Buy carbon offsets||This can be done to offset the carbon emissions for which you are responsible, making your net carbon impact zero.|
|Purchase energy efficient products||Purchasing energy efficient products can greatly reduce the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere during electricity production.|
- Reduce business travel to essential trips only.
- Encourage employees to walk, bike, take public transportation or carpool to work—offer incentives to encourage best practice behavior.
- Consider participating in a public tree planting effort or organize your own.
- If feasible, ask your building maintenance to mow the grass using a non-motorized lawnmower.
- Practice energy saving techniques.