We see extreme weather daily around the globe. We feel it in Jamaica with hotter summers, beach erosion, decreasing rainfall and drought. Heatwaves, fires, floods and hurricanes are increasingly severe and more people around the world will die as a result. The elderly and those at risk are most often the victims, but rising heat and humidity bring dangers even for healthy people. Staying outdoors and exercising strenuously now calls for caution.
As climate change begins to punish us more often we have to change our lifestyles, and governments must move to counter its negative effects. If we don’t get global warming under control or adapt infrastructure to lessen its effects our lives and livelihoods face jeopardy.
What can we do? World politics and economics make cutting emissions tricky on a national level. Individually, however, we all can make a difference in how we travel, the electricity we use and the food we eat. Here are some ideas that may help.
1) We can use less AC, switch to LED lights and energy-efficient appliances, wash laundry with cold water or use the sun as a dryer. That would reduce the oil, gas and coal used to power our electricity.
2) We can walk, cycle, carpool or take public transport. (Some in Jamaica see public transportation as unsafe. But if more of us used it that would reduce the risks).That would minimize traffic, and fewer cars on the road means reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Using alternate modes of transport helps you get exercise and improves
your overall health.
3) Eating more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, and less meat and dairy lowers our environmental impact. Plant-based foods require less energy, land and water.
4) Compost leftovers. When we throw food away we're wasting resources and energy used to grow, produce, package and transport it. When food rots in a landfill it produces methane, a greenhouse gas.
5) Buy fewer things, shop second-hand, repair and recycle to protect our climate. Electronics, clothes and other items cause carbon emissions at each point in production – extraction, manufacturing and transportation.
6) Switch to renewable energy sources such as wind or solar where possible. This will reduce the gas and oil we burn to produce electricity, and emissions will also be reduced.