Thursday, June 07, 2007

Ways to curb climate change

THE Earth has warmed by approximately 0.75°C since pre-industrial times. Eleven of the warmest years in the past 125 years had occurred since 1990, with 2005 the warmest so far. The warming is due to emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), from burning fossil fuels as well as releases of methane from livestock, agriculture and decaying rubbish.

Global warming is not a problem for someone else to sort out as we are all responsible. Everything we buy and use has a history of energy use behind it.

Choose climate-friendly appliances

An energy-efficient refrigerator can save nearly half a tonne of CO2 a year, compared with an older model.

Light up with less

Switch to energy-efficient compact fluorescent lights (CFL). Being 75% more efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs, they use less energy and hence, reduce CO2 emissions. If each Malaysian household replaces a 60W incandescent lamps with three 11W CFLs, this will save 1.5 billion kWhrs or RM400mil a year.

Turn it off

Leaving your television, computer, monitor and DVD player on standby mode can chalk up a hefty electricity bill. Switch them off when you go to bed.

Keeping cool

Set the air-conditioning at home and the office at a comfortable – not freezing – temperature. Raising the temperature by 1.5°C can save one tonne of CO2 a year. Keep doors closed to keep the cold in.

Put up a clothesline

Don’t use tumble dryers. Dry your clothes the way your mother did – by hanging them in the sun.

Power up with solar

It is now possible to install solar panels and produce your own solar energy. Find out more at

Buy green electricity

Lobby power suppliers to produce clean, renewable energy such as solar energy and biogas.

Not too cold

Keep the refrigerator temperature at between 3°C and 5°C so as not to waste electricity. It works most efficiently in a cool environment, so don’t place it next to the window or stove. A grimy condenser coil can raise energy use by 30%, so keep it dust-free.

Light up right

Use natural daylight instead of turning on lights. Switch off lights when you leave a room. Lighting accounts for 19% of global electricity consumption.

Give a gift of plant

Trees and plants absorb CO2. So, give them away for birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s/Father’s Day, and so on.

Share tools

How often do you use that power drill or high-pressure washer? Share electrical appliances with your friends and neighbours.

Seek out cotton

Synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon are derived from petrochemicals and are made using vast amounts of water and energy. Replace them with cotton material, preferably organic, since cotton is often grown using pesticides and bleached to look white.

Support local produce

Buy locally produced food and goods whenever possible. Shifting goods all over the world burns up fuel, which creates pollution and worsens global warming.

Never dump, recycle!

A person throws away 10 times his bodyweight in rubbish each year. One kilogram sent to the landfill produces 2kg of methane. Reusing things spares the need for new materials and energy.

Think before you buy

Everything we buy sends ripples through the environment as its production and disposal exhaust energy and resources, and leave behind waste.

Buy second-hand

You will avoid consuming all the energy used in producing and transporting a new product.

Say ‘No’ to plastic bags

More than 500 plastic bags are distributed each year and less than 3% of them are recycled. Made from polyethylene, which is derived from petroleum, plastic bags almost never ever degrade and emit harmful greenhouse gases. Always bring your own shopping bag.

Smart cooking

A pressure cooker can cut cooking time by a third, hence saving energy.

Eat less meat

The meat industry emits about 18% of the world’s greenhouse gases, with much of it coming from nitrous oxide in manure and methane from cows’ digestive tracts.

Become a vegan

By eliminating meat from your diet, you can shrink your carbon footprint by up to 1.4 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

Invest in a solar charger

It will power your rechargeable batteries with free, clean energy.

Abandon your car

Avoid unnecessary car trips. Walk or cycle for short distances and take the bus or train whenever possible. Have a car-free day once or twice a week.

It’s cool to car-pool

Fewer cars on the road means less traffic congestion, climate-changing gases and air pollutants.

Pump up your tyres

For every 6psi that a tyre is under-inflated, fuel consumption can rise by1%.

Ecological driving

Stick to the speed limit. Rapid acceleration and harsh braking leads to greater fuel usage. Have your car serviced regularly for optimum performance.

Lighten the load

Don’t use your car as storage space. The heavier the car, the higher the fuel consumption.

Be a green driver

Invest in electric, hybrid or hydrogen cars when they become available in the market.

Light up with the sun

Use solar-powered outdoor lights for your garden.

Work close to home

Less commuting translates to fuel savings. Alternatively, convince your employer to let you work from home once or twice a week.

Pay bills online

With e-transactions, you can avoid car trips and save paper, too.

Wasted power

Unplug your mobile phone as soon as it has finished charging.

Wash when full

Fill your dishwasher and washing machine with a full load – this will save you water, electricity and washing powder.

Green your flight

Each year, aviation produces as much carbon dioxide as is produced by human activities in Africa. So, travel by road or rail for short distances, or offset the carbon released each time you fly by supporting a tree-planting scheme (

Live small

The bigger your house, the more electricity you will need to light and cool it. The production of building materials, such as cement, releases carbon too.

Cool homes

Design your dwelling, office or building to be climate-friendly by incorporating energy-saving features.

Ecological travel

Turn the lights and air-conditioning off when you leave your hotel room. Ask for your room towels to be washed every other day.

Guard the green

Forests are the world’s natural lungs. They purify the air and absorb heat-trapping gases. So, protect them and plant more trees.

Keep peat forests intact

Peat forests are natural carbon sinks and stores. Dig and drain them and you will release massive amounts of carbon, which lie buried in the soil.

Be carbon neutral

Corporations should audit their carbon footprint. After reducing emissions as much as possible, offset the rest by purchasing carbon credits for tree-planting or renewable energy schemes. Individuals should do the same, too.

Go for green energy

Lobby your company management to invest in energy conservation measures or renewable energy.

What’s your carbon footprint?

Measure how much CO2 your activities release at

**Taken from TheStar**

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