Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Corner: Reset Earth’s Thermostat | News, sports, jobs

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As I write this, more than 190 political leaders and tens of thousands of negotiators, government officials, businesses and citizens are gathering in Glasgow, Scotland for the 26th global climate summit, COP26. From October 31 through November 12, they should work to reach agreements, set goals, and develop strategies to reduce global warming. For almost 30 years the UN has been bringing representatives from almost every country in the world together at global climate summits, the so-called COPs, what for. stands “Conference of the Parties”. This year’s summit, COP26, was originally scheduled for 2020 but has been postponed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2015 the World Climate Summit (COP21) took place in Paris. History was made when, for the first time, all participating countries agreed to work together to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees C, with the goal of 1.5 degrees. This became known as the “Paris Agreement.” As part of this agreement, each country committed to developing national plans detailing how much it would reduce its emissions. They also agreed to come up with an updated plan every five years, which is why this year’s summit is so important – this is the year for these updated plans.

Unfortunately, the Paris plans did not come close to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees. Continuing with these goals would result in global warming well over 3 degrees by 2100, which could be catastrophic. Let’s hope our world leaders recognize this and develop new goals and strategies. We have to find ways to produce less carbon than we extract from the atmosphere, i.e. achieve “Net zero”, by 2050 to achieve the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.

Have we made any progress? Yes sir. Solar and wind energy are the cheapest electricity in most countries today and a growing industry. Many car manufacturers are starting to produce only hybrid or electric models. Some cities, states, and regions are working to reduce their emissions to zero. More natural areas are being protected and trees are being planted that store carbon. New agricultural practices are being developed to make the soil better able to store carbon.

Britain is a leading example of what can be achieved. It was the first country to commit to reducing CO2 emissions by 80 percent by 2035. Its economy has grown 78 percent over the past 30 years while its emissions have reduced 44 percent. Nine years ago, 40 percent of Britain’s electricity came from coal. Today it’s only 2 percent, and coal will be phased out entirely by 2024. Sales of new gasoline and diesel cars will cease until 2030. The UK will plant 74,000 hectares of land annually through 2025 and work with farmers to improve the carbon storage capacity of agricultural land. Great Britain is the world’s largest producer of offshore wind energy. Internationally, the UK will spend over $ 16 billion over the next five years to help developing countries with climate change, with at least $ 4 billion devoted to nature-based solutions. Impressive! Let us hope that other nations, including our own, will commit to meeting the net-zero goal by 2050 and take action, as the UK has done, to achieve it.

In the here and now, at home, each of us can make a difference. Small steps, but as each of us take them, they become giant steps toward a healthier, cooler, and safer planet. Here are some things you can do:

1. Plant trees. Trees take in carbon and exhale oxygen that we breathe. Trees store carbon, provide shade and moderate temperatures.

2. Improve your lawn and garden soil. The addition of organic matter such as peat moss, chopped leaves, compost and manure, and the use of catch crops increase the soil’s capacity to store carbon.

3. Use renewable energies. Install solar panels in your home or buy your electricity from a solar or wind generator.

4. Reduce, reuse, recycle. You have heard this mantra for years – now please do it! Landfills produce methane, which is 25 percent stronger than CO2.

5. Eat for a climate stable planet. Eat more meatless meals (cattle are a huge source of methane!) Buy organic and local food – support your local farmers market. Grow your own food. Don’t waste food. Compost your food waste.

6. Buy a hybrid or electric car.

7. Shop online? Choose a slower shipping. 1-day shipping means more delivery trips.

8. Instead of driving, walk or ride a bike, or carpool. Combine errands to save on travel.

9. Perform an energy audit for your home and track ways to save energy.

10. Reach out to your elected officials. Challenge them to take bold action to reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change.

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Cynthia Burkhart is a gardener, goatherd, and concerned citizen who lives on solar energy in Ritchie County.

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