As we bid good bye to 2019, there’s one thing we mustn’t forget: Our actions have made the earth a much hotter place this year, inching it closer towards irreversible, long-lasting destruction. Global warming, the gradual heating of the earth’s surface, oceans and atmosphere, is a reality that we can’t run away from, and is caused mainly by the burning of fossil fuels that release carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. A report released on September 27, 2013 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said that the human influence on climate is clearer than ever and that each of the last three decades has been successively warmer than any preceding decade since 1850.
Although recent statistics by the Global Carbon Project show that worldwide industrial emissions rose at a considerably slower pace in 2019 than the previous years, scientists have said that the global carbon footprint will have to steadily decline each year if severe consequences such as killer heat waves, food and water shortage, floods and famines are to be avoided.
The Middle East and global warming
Carbon emissions in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have doubled in the past 30 years, with oil-rich countries leading the way, a study by Carboun, an advocacy initiative promoting sustainability in the Middle East, has said. Although these countries represent only a tiny share of global emissions, they top the list in emissions per capita, the study added, saying that their citizens create two to 10 times the amount of emissions of the average global citizen. Carboun’s report also said that a big part of the problem lies in the fact that oil and gas-rich countries were more likely to use these resources ineffectively.
In 2017 Qatar had the highest emissions at 49 tonnes (t) per person, followed by Trinidad and Tobago (30t); Kuwait (25t); United Arab Emirates (25t); Brunei (24t); Bahrain (23t) and Saudi Arabia (19t). As a result, the region has also been at the receiving end of the climate change crisis, from floods in Jeddah to rising sea levels in the Mediterranean. According to the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa held at the Dead Sea in Jordan: “We can see the effects of global warming first-hand. The salt lake has shrunk by almost a third in the last two decades due to lower rainfall, higher temperatures leading to increased evaporation, and water being siphoned off from the River Jordan, which flows into it.”
Floods and heat waves have also affected the region in recent years. It has also not been exempt from drought and according to NASA, the dry period in the Eastern Mediterranean (comprising Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Turkey) which began in 1998, is the worst drought of the past nine centuries. The World Bank, which is spending $1.5 billion to fight climate change in the region, estimates that 80-100 million people will be exposed to water woes by 2025.
According to Germany’s Max Planck Institute, temperatures in the MENA region will be 4°C higher by 2050 and by the end of the century, daytime highs could touch 50°C, with 200 days of extreme heat every year. Without urgent action to curb global emissions, research says, cities in the region may become uninhabitable by 2100.
How to reduce carbon footprint
Carbon footprint refers to the amount of greenhouse gases we produce through our various daily activities. Scientists say if we make a number of small adjustments in our daily habits, then the collective reduction in carbon footprint can make a significant impact on the environment.
- Turn it off: Before going to bed, unplug the TV, the washing machine, the dishwasher, water heater, outdoor lights- everything that made your life easier during the day.
- Trade the old for the new: Old cars consume more fuel, so try as far as possible to use new cars. Not only are they more fuel efficient, they are likely to have higher safety ratings. Better still, walk whenever you can: not only is this a great carbon footprint saver, but it also helps you shed pounds!
- Reduce electricity usage: Set ACs on warmer settings as much as possible, especially when you’re out of the house, or even turn it off. Investing in solar panels can also bring down electricity costs.
- Turn green: The benefits of planting a tree are many. Trees bring down temperature, absorb carbon dioxide, and even create a bio system for birds to thrive.
- Check them regularly: Check and service your electrical and electronic appliances regularly. Old, dysfunctional appliances generate more energy and increase the carbon footprint.
- Recycle: Don’t throw away things you don’t need. Reuse wood to make a small table. Use vegetable shavings to make compost or manure for plants and stay away from plastic-use recycled bags instead.