#ClimateChange - What is this about and what to do wih it?

Climate change. A phrase that is already becoming familiar in the media space, but is still not as familiar in the list of priority tasks of the states, organizations and companies as it [urgently] should be. Climate change is not only about melting glaciers and polar bears, which are somewhere far away and kind of do not really concern us - it's also about long-term changes in temperature, weather conditions and our usual way of life.

While the 26th session of the UN Climate Change Conference is taking place in Glasgow, we are going to tell you what is important to know about it today.

Nature! Or people?

Climate changes can be natural and anthropogenic - that is, related to human activity. Today, human activity is the main reason for the acceleration of climate change. If natural changes take tens of thousands of years, then anthropogenic changes lead us hundreds of times faster to changes that humanity does not have time to prepare for (resource consumption or waste accumulation occurs faster than humanity finds a way to restore the environment).

DID YOU KNOW THAT

the past decade was the warmest in the history of mankind?!

Most people associate climate change only with rising temperature, but this is not the case. Droughts, melting of polar ice floes, floods, extensive fires, storms, reduction of biological diversity, migration are only a part of the catastrophic consequences.

The warmest decade is yet another stark reminder
of the relentless pace of climate change,
which is destroying lives and livelihoods across our planet.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

1,11 °C

So the temperature in 2019 was HIGHER than in 1800-1900. And compared to the XX-th century, in 2019 the average world temperature was 0.95 degrees higher.

1,5 °C

With global warming of the temperature at this value, there will be sharp changes in the intensity of the seasons, increased heat waves, changes in the nature of precipitation, affecting floods and droughts.

2 °C

The increase with such a temperature value will lead to the fact that extreme heat indicators will more often reach critical limits, after which agriculture and human health will suffer significantly.

For example, the extreme heat that we observed in 2021 has all the signs of anthropogenic climate change. And such phenomena will occur more often and more intensively.

To learn more about the situation for 2021, we suggest reading the text of the report of the IPCC Working Group (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) here: https://clck.ru/YUW8z

And in the video below, Lena and Katea talk about why climate change is also relevant for Moldova, what needs to be done about it - and what EcoVisio is doing.


Why does this concern both you and me?

Climate change exacerbates existing environmental, social, and economic problems. Our country is a striking example. Moldova is one of the most vulnerable countries in Europe with regard to the consequences of climate change, because we have a very unprotected ecosystem, as well as an extremely low level of interest and understanding of this problem. We observe and experience extreme natural phenomena - droughts, floods, hurricanes and fires that lead to the destruction of infrastructure, hunger, lack of clean water in our country or in other countries... We are horrified, but we do not think enough about their causes, as well as about the possibilities to mitigate or avoid damage.

Any climate changes that are not directly related to Moldova may have consequences for it! Let's look at this in one of the examples:

Those faraway melting glaciers lead not only to an increase in the level of the World Ocean, but also to a change in its "abilities". Initially, the ocean is one of our main "allies”, which absorbs carbon dioxide, smooths out sharp fluctuations in temperatures, helps moisture and heat to reach remote areas of land. As you remember from school, the climate of Europe depends on the ocean current of the Gulf Stream, which brings warm weather and precipitation. And its violation - due to changes in the properties and volumes of ocean water - can lead to a cold and dry climate in our country, which characterized by a small amount of precipitation.

What's next? Moldova, being an agrarian country, may lose a favorable climate for growing crops. And this threatens to increase the costs of growing them, reduce the harvest; as a result, high prices.

What causes global warming?

The main cause of global warming is human activity. People burn fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas) to produce energy and all things, as a result of which gases are released into the atmosphere - carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxide, fluorinated gases. They lead to the greenhouse effect, because they are able to absorb a lot of solar heat. Carbon dioxide accounts for 64% of the anthropogenic causes of global warming. Now its concentration in the atmosphere is 40% higher than in the pre-industrial era.

Agriculture is also one of the main sources of greenhouse gases: cows and sheep emit methane during digestion, and an increase in the concentration of nitrogen oxide in the atmosphere occurs due to the use of many fertilizers.

Is there anything that absorbs carbon dioxide? The first thought is - forests. They regulate the climate, but due to deforestation, this effect is minimized. From 1980 to 2000, 100 million hectares of tropical forests were destroyed in order to construct cities, grazing, plantations and fields. More than half of the growth in global agricultural production has been achieved through deforestation. This is like 29.5 territories of Moldova or 19230 areas of Moldovan Codri.

More than half of the growth in global agricultural production has come from deforestation. The situation in Moldova isn’t better - our forest area is significantly smaller than the European average. Meanwhile, trees not only absorb carbon dioxide, but also help to cope with the consequences of climate change (droughts, floods, etc.). Trees are a necessity for Moldova, there is no other way.

In addition to forests, the ocean is “engaged” in the absorption of carbon dioxide. However, as a result of melting ice, increasing the temperature of the world ocean, it gradually loses the ability to perform this function - which means that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, as well as the scale of climate change is growing significantly.

Both in the ocean and on land, not only animals die, but also plants that are not adapted to changes of the climatic conditions - and this also affects the planet's ability to absorb the carbon dioxide.


"A small step for a big future"

A small step is the starting point in solving any problem. And importantly, each of us can contribute to solving the problem of climate change by reducing carbon emissions in everyday life. We are all the cause of greenhouse gases in one way or another: when we go to work, cook lunch, buy new clothes of our favorite brand, or change the phone to a new one simply because a new model has appeared. The totality of all emissions affected by humans is the "carbon footprint". The carbon footprint consists of all human activity. For example, there are more than 4 tons of CO2 per person in Moldova, in America this value is much higher - 15 tons per person, and in India - less than 2 tons.

Therefore, all the processes of modern life leave a fat carbon footprint. It is necessary to pay attention to how much energy you spend. There are special calculators with which you can calculate the carbon footprint. You answer simple questions about your life, and the algorithm counts. You can try such a calculator here (but in general there are many different ones on the Internet): https://clck.ru/YUW6t


HOW CAN I CHANGE SOMETHING AND IN WHAT AREAS?

The Energy Sector

In the Republic of Moldova, the energy sector accounts for the majority of CO2 production. Energy in our region is generated by: burning gas (54%), coal (2%), wood, biomass (20%), as well as hydroelectric power plants (0.6%), windmills and solar panels (2%) - according to 2018 data.

Solution: Energy efficiency can contribute to a 70% reduction of CO2 emissions.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?
  • insulate your house, in order to reduce energy consumption for its heating, as a result, saving money and greenhouse gas emissions;
  • transition from central heating to autonomous, in order to regulate energy consumption;
  • use thermosolar batteries for heat generation and water heating;
  • use energy-saving lighting equipment: LEDs, motion sensors;
  • follow the tips from these videos:

Remember: the main reason for the current climate change is human activity. If we want to prevent the worst consequences, it is necessary to reduce emissions from burning fossil fuels to almost zero.

The Agriculture

Agriculture is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and other greenhouse gases released during crop and livestock production also contribute to global warming. As a result of expanding the area of agricultural land, increasing the number of livestock and more intensive use of soil and fertilizers, emissions are increasing.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?
  • use unpretentious types of crops and species of animals;
  • buy local products to reduce CO2 emissions when transporting them from afar;
  • buy products grown using environmental practices;
  • reduce consumption or completely abandon animal products - meat, milk.

The Waste

The next, according to the level of pollution, is the waste sector. Every day we produce garbage that we throw away and then forget about.

75% of what is in the trash is not trash. What is the difference? Waste is all that can still get a second life. But every day a lot of people turn waste into trash [with which nothing else can be done], by just throwing everything into one bucket, without separating.

Our waste ends up in landfills, which pollute the environment. There are more landfills in Moldova than settlements - the picture is depressing. And every landfill is an invisible but dangerous pollution of water, soil and air. And, of course, a source of greenhouse gases, since about half of the waste is organic (food waste, leaves, etc.). In a landfill, they decompose, releasing heat and methane.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
  • sort your waste. If we separate organic waste from inorganic waste (plastic, glass, metal, paper), the inorganic waste will be much easier to recycle.
  • composting - this way food waste and leaves will not only not emit CO2, but will also fertilize the soil. How to do it? Learn more in the video below.
  • and the most important thing is to reduce the amount of waste, especially the waste that cannot be recycled or composted!

The transport sector

The amount of CO2 produced by a particular car depends on many factors. However, if we analyze the entire transport sector, passenger cars emit the largest amount of carbon dioxide (60,7%).

Solution: to minimize the use of a personal car and switch to alternative or public transport.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?
  • use the public transport more often than your own car;
  • use bicycles, scooters, segways etc.;
  • choose to travel by train rather than by plane;
  • walk :-)

Production and consumption

Economic growth contributes to the growth of consumption among the population, and consumption contributes to the growth of production. And everyone can influence this cycle.

Solution: Conscious production and consumption. The essence of conscious consumption is to minimize the harm that production and man himself cause to nature. Conscious consumption is a conscious approach to everything we buy, use and throw away.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?
  • look for the truth [possibly unpleasant] about the production process, composition and consequences of using products;
  • dispel the cliche that good things cannot be cheap or that not everyone can afford natural products;
  • buy new things only if necessary - collect friends and impressions, not just stuff;
  • buy from local and social producers, supporting social entrepreneurship, for example through the platform Iarmareco.md;
  • buy second hand and exchange things at freeshop, giving them a new life;
  • collect things for reuse;
  • buy goods without packaging - always use the eco-bags and containers!

Bhutan as an example
[or the country that achieved success]

The vast majority of the world's countries have a positive carbon footprint, meaning they emit more CO2 than their forests are capable to absorb. But there is one pleasant exception – Bhutan, located between China and India. Its sustainable energy is part of the national identity. Bhutan actively uses rivers to generate electricity, and the amount of transport that uses petroleum products has been reduced to a minimum [we give this example from the point of view of CO2 recovery - as for hydroelectric power plants, this is not the most environmentally friendly source of electricity!]. All these measures have made the reduction of carbon emissions possible. This is a small country with a neutral carbon footprint, whose activities are aimed not at the size of GDP, but at a high happiness index of its citizens, whose number is less than 1 million.

Information = Impact

Information and its dissemination is an important way of influencing. Raising awareness and civic activism will help to draw attention to the gravity of the problem, as well as encouraging people to take action. Now positive actions are a necessity, because only some 9-10 years separate Moldova from irreversible climate change.

One of the most important events in the field of climate is already taking place (October 31 - November 12) - the 26th UN Climate Change Conference, which is being held in Glasgow (Scotland) with the participation of delegates from almost 200 countries (Moldova among them), thousands of climate experts, business leaders, representatives of civil society, non-governmental organizations and journalists from around the world.

On the eve of each Conference of the Parties, green activists from different countries take part in eco-protests, agitating states to switch to green energy in order to avoid climate change.

Here are some examples of protests in 2021:

  • the largest climate protest in history and the first since the beginning of the pandemic took place in September in Germany under the slogan: "Change will come from the streets." The protesters demanded that states take active action on climate issues and environmental justice. Details: https://clck.ru/YWvkg
  • at the London Science Museum, climate activists protested against the sponsors of fossil fuels. Learn more: https://clck.ru/YWue5
  • a protest rally was held in New York, whose activists tried to put pressure on US President Joe Biden to introduce laws aimed at curbing climate change. Learn more: https://clck.ru/YWvEa 

What will be discussed at the COP 26 UN Climate Change Conference?

the fate of coal and gas, as many countries, like India, China and Australia, are not ready to abandon fossil fuels. Some countries, under pressure from industrialists and economists, will also not be able to abandon internal combustion engines and stop deforestation.

the methodologies for assessing countries' true contributions to carbon pollution, especially in historical retrospect. Developing countries require mitigation of the requirements imposed on them to reduce emissions and the timing of the transition to renewable energy sources, since their total environmental impact over the past 100 years is much lower than the impact of developed countries.

the ratio of measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to climate change. The interest of rich countries is to direct their long-promised assistance to poor countries mainly to reduce carbon emissions, since this supposedly will bring more benefits to these countries in the short term (in reality, green investments and environmental results of projects on the introduction of low-carbon technologies will go to corporations of developed countries that own these technologies). Poor countries, on the contrary, would like to spend these funds on adaptation to climate change, as this would allow them to preserve the traditional economy and somehow feed the population.

The coming years are decisive in keeping the effects of climate change within the specified limits.


START WITH YOURSELF! It's too late to just start with yourself, we need to do more!

In the world in which we live today, it is not enough just to change the lifestyle individually and replace a plastic bag with an eco-bag [this is great, but not enough].

IT'S TOO LATE TO BE A PESSIMIST.

the movie "Home"

For the successful implementation of the [great] plan to improve the living conditions of future [and current, aha] generations of people and living beings, we practice and recommend:

  • Learn more about the topic and practices, participate actively in thematic events (activEco), read blogs, follow youtube channels and watch movies about #it (Home, The Age of Stupid),
  • Join the international movements Extinction Rebellion, Fridays for Future, etc.,
  • Tell your family, classmates, colleagues, neighbors about practices and facts on this topic,
  • Become a part of thematic organizations and clubs, bring the topic into your activities, choose professions related to sustainability and ecological lifestyle. The list of future professions in the environmental field, according to the Atlas of Professions 3.0, can be found here: https://wwf.ru/resources/ekoprofessii/;
  • Set an example in your own practices and habits, talk about it on social networks and become an eco-blogger-amateur [or maybe not an "amateur" ;)],
  • Write projects and help local authorities to make it a priority for work on the ground,
  • Hold a #keepcool game in your organization, school, team - a board or online game about climate change (and you can also invite a special facilitator to conduct it),
  • Create or use materials that make it easier to convey information about climate change to other people,
  • Join the campaigns to promote the idea of introducing a “Climate Crisis" state of emergency at the state level, which will lead to certain obligations on the part of state structures.
  • ...and last, but not least,
BECOME A PART OF THE ECOVISIO COMMUNITY, BRING YOUR INITIATIVE, CREATE MATERIALS AND EVENTS WITH US, WRITE AND TELL ABOUT US -
BECAUSE #WE_CARE.
possibly, just like you.

Here is an initiative and an unusual story of young people who have also become concerned about this problem:

***

Text: trainee Aliona Talmazan with the support and guidance of the EcoVisio team

Translation from Russian: Adriana Grosu

Videos made within the following projects and programs by EcoVisio: activEco, AgroVisio, Moldova #FărăDeșeuri, ActiveOrganic, ActiveCiuluc - and also by friends' initiatives

Illustrations: Veronica Ternavschi

Layout: Gabriela Isac & Aina Idrisova

 


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