BY Mutaharra A W Deva
Climate Change is a technical subject as well a social entity because it needs technical pathway to address and has direct impact on the humans on daily basis may be health, economy, social and political spectrum.
Individual action on climate change can include personal choices in many areas, such as diet, means of long- and short-distance travel, household energy use, consumption of goods and services, and debates and discussions at mohalla level.
Emission budget of J&K has not been estimated yet and we are unaware about the individual average carbon footprint which was very essential for our topography and climate issues and our location being in the Himalayas.
The life style changes therefore are essential to sustain life of humans and that of land due to our lack of data on environmental parameters. These aspects have been covered in the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report which emphasizes that behaviour, lifestyle and cultural change have a high mitigation potential in some sectors. In general, higher consumption lifestyles have a greater environmental impact, with the richest 10% of people emitting about half the total lifestyle emissions.
Several scientific studies have suggested easy lifestyle changes like living car free (2.4 tonnes), avoiding one round-trip transatlantic flight (1.6 tonnes), and eating a plant based diet (0.8 tonnes) can have a high impact on per capita carbon emission. Fossil fuel contribute to 71% of carbon emissions since 1988 .
Global Average GHG (greenhouse gas) per person per year in the late 2010s was about 7 tonnes - including 0.7 tonnes CO2 eq food, 1.1 tonnes from the home, and 0.8 tonnes from transport. Some estimates of the annual carbon footprint per person required to meet the Paris agreement are: 4.5 tonnes by 2030, 3 tonnes, and 2.1 tonnes by 2050.
Some of the individual actions that impact Climate Change can be:
Avoiding air travel can have an effect because high altitude emission is more potent for the climate than the same emissions made at ground level and is much more difficult to fix technically than surface transport. Airplanes contribute to damaging our environment since airplanes cause greater air pollution as they release carbon dioxide along with nitrogen oxides, which is an atmospheric pollutant. These gases lead to the formation of the greenhouse gas ozone. Ozone has a greater concentration level in higher altitudes than being on the ground. The carbon in the fuel which jets burn gets released into the atmosphere forming carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere also causes water acidification. Walking and running are among the least environmentally harmful modes of transportation, cycling follows walking as having a low impact on the environment. Public transport such as electric buses, lectric trams generally emit less greenhouse gases than cars per passenger, Using an electric car instead of a gasoline or diesel car helps to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Home Energy, Landscaping and Consumption
Reducing home energy use through measures such as insulation, better energy efficiency of appliances, cool roofs, heat reflective paints, lowering water heater temperature, and improving heating and cooling efficiency can significantly reduce an individual's carbon footprint. In addition, the choice of energy used to heat, cool, and power homes makes a difference in the carbon footprint of individual homes. These methods of energy production emit almost no greenhouse gases once they are up and running. Installing rooftop solar, both on a household and community scale, also drastically reduces household emissions, and at scale could be a major contributor to greenhouse gas abatement.
Low Energy Products and Consumption
Labels, such as star rating can be seen on many household appliances, home electronics, office equipment, heating and cooling equipment, windows, residential light fixtures, and other products. promotes energy efficiency.
Carbon emission labels describe the CO2 emissions created as a by-product of manufacturing, transporting, or disposing of a consumer product.
Landscape and Garden
Protecting forests and planting new trees contributes to the absorption of carbon dioxide from the air. There are many opportunities to plant trees in the yard, along roads, in parks, and in public gardens. Artificial grass lawns can contribute to climate change through the impacts of fertilisers, herbicides, irrigation, and gas-powered lawnmowers and other tools; depending on how lawns are managed, the impact of emissions from maintenance and chemicals may outweigh any carbon sequestration from the lawn. Reducing irrigation, reducing chemical use, planting native plants or bushes, and using hand tools can all reduce the climate impact of lawns. Planting of local grown food and promoting locally available food items need to be undertaken.
Laundry and choice of clothing
While using a washing machine using a shorter, cold water wash cycle can conserve energy by as much as 66%, while simultaneously reducing colour loss and shedding of microfibers into the environment. Hanging laundry to dry also saves energy and reduces carbon footprint. Purchasing well-made, durable clothing and avoiding fast fashion is critical for reducing climate impact. Producing raw materials such as clothing has a big impact on our environment. Factors such as spinning material into fibres, dyeing, and weaving require massive amounts of water and chemicals. Some materials such as cotton require pesticides for growing as cotton. Clothing is the second-largest pollution source in the world. Some clothing is donated and recycled, meanwhile, the rest of the waste heads to landfills where they release greenhouse gases and leach toxins and dyes into the surrounding soil and water. The condition of Achen landfill in Srinagar is really worrying as the leachates will have a deleterious effect on the human life and that of the health of the water bodies.
Choice of Stove
The choice of stove may vary depending on location. Electric Stoves are preferable to natural gas in locations where the electric grid has a high proportion of renewable energy. Since the use of renewable energy has not reached to a sizeable level we need to look for options like Biomass Stoves in order to conserve wood .Trapping of Solar energy is an option but needs more research for our type of climate. Institutional level solar cooking has enabled most of the temples in the country to earn money through carbon credits. Woodstoves or pellet stoves and pellet Bukharis are available but due to their high cost it has not found a sound commercial market in J&K. This type uses sustainably harvested local wood it reduces the fossil fuel use although reduced emissions are there..
Hot water consumption
Domestic heated water using non-renewable resources such as gas contributes to significant global Carbon Dioxide emissions and reduces carbon pool reserves. Turning off the water heater and using unheated water for laundry, bathing (weather permitting), dishes, and cleaning eliminates those emissions. Besides being good for decreasing emissions, colder water is healthier than heated water, since heated water releases more lead from pipes than cold water. Cold showers are also seen to have benefits over warm/hot showers. This can be used during summer months in the valley of Kashmir. In winter due to non-availability of electricity we use wood in the form of timber for our Hamamas. In order to discourage this use we need to go for production of green electricity from our water resources to our full potential and side by side keeping our water resources clean and free from pollution. This is all interlinked.
Using reusable containers such as lunchboxes, grocery bags, produce bags, plastic containers, and buying fresh produce and unpackaged foods reduces carbon emissions and pollution from the production of single use containers and packaging. Eliminating paper towel usage by using reusable washable towels also saves energy.
Furniture accounts for a significant portion of all harvested trees. In many developing countries, tables are not used for serving food, but instead food is served on a sheet on the floor around which people gather to eat. This eating arrangement relies on a much smaller volume of manufactured furniture material than serving food on a raised table and chairs. This is our tradition particularly in Kashmir to sit on the floor to eat. This practice needs to be encouraged for better health benefits and doing our bit to contribute to climate change.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.