Sustainable ideas for homes

Making your home more sustainable can be achieved in various ways and can introduce some interesting and exciting new ideas. Below are some practical ideas as well as some experimental prototypes.

Sustainable heating systems: Switching from a gas boiler can improve the sustainability of your home and in some cases save you money. If you would like more detailed information then check the hyperlink above. Three alternative heating systems I found from the website were the electrical resistance heating, biomass boilers and ground source heat pumps.

Photo by Erik Mclean on Pexels.com

Sustainable water systems: Again, for more in-depth information follow the hyperlink in the title. One important point I found from the website was that two central branches for sustainable water involve introducing water-efficient devices and/or using alternative water sources to supply the household.

Photo by Nithin PA on Pexels.com


Tesla solar panel roofing: This involves replacing typical roof tiles with roof tiles that are also solar panels. Efficient as they maximise the space a roof can capture solar energy whilst demonstrating a modern style.

Solar panel windows: A new innovative design that replaces normal windows with clear solar panel windows. This idea is still in its infancy and being tested but could prove to be a valuable investment. Given time for transition, with enough buildings installing solar windows this could alleviate our dependence on fossil fuels for energy usage.

Photo by Aleksey Kuprikov on Pexels.com


Growing your own food: This is a fun and relatively easy way to reduce your dependence on supermarkets, all it takes is a little patience and saves a little money. Plastic used by supermarkets creates a lot of waste and vegetables tend to always be packaged in plastic wrapping. If you’re growing food indoors, growing near a window seal is beneficial or using artificial lights. Regardless of where you decide to grow your plants, there are sustainable techniques to growing food that are universal. Different techniques involve composting green waste, saving seeds from vegetables and mulching. Growing your own food whether in little pots by your window or in big planters in the garden is a simple solution toward being more sustainable.

Photo by Tom Swinnen on Pexels.com

Hopefully this post offers some insight on how to make your home more sustainable, given you an activity to do during lockdown or at the very least been an interesting read.

Sources:

Sustainable forest management and adaptation to climate change

Sustainable forest management can be defined as ‘outcomes that are socially just, ecologically sound and economically viable – the three pillars of sustainability‘. Each pillar is needed in order for a forests to thrive, if one of these pillars is missing a forest cannot be protected.

Depending on the type of forest that is being managed, such as a rainforest or a boreal forest, the management of that forest will vary. Management needs to be specific to the type of ecosystem that the forest resides, tailor to the legal framework and socio-cultural aspects depending on what nation the forest is found in. Although, there are objective requirements that all forests should include.

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Climate change can present many uncertainties when managing forests, therefore a forest should be adapting to promote resilience against the threat of droughts, damage from pests, diseases and wild fire. One way this can be achieved is by practicing silviculture, which consists of controlling the structure and dynamics of a forest. In managing a forest one needs to take an adaptive approach as the climate is constantly changing. Additionally, aside from climate change other influences may include timber prices, land use change and recreational use. There are often extreme conditions one may have to plan for as well, such as extreme drought or rainfall, these are conditions that may need individual and adaptive plans for these issues.

‘Adaptive management is an iterative process in which it is important to test new systems and ideas and judge how these perform under extreme climatic conditions’ – Climate change: impacts and adaptation in England’s woodlands

It is important to focus on why and how a forest needs to be managed but also on the adaptive measures that need to be facilitated in order to prevent these issues from destroying forests.

Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Pexels.com

Current research suggest that the adaptation of forests must be tailored to local communities. This is important as adaptations strategies vary among geographical location and the type of forest present.

Some strategies involve planting drought-resistant trees to provide food security and reduce erosion. Other strategies invest in forest genetic research and breeding programmes. This improves forestry growth rates and resilience to disease. Alternatively, focusing on restoring biodiversity can increase the resilience of an ecosystem and restore habitat loss.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Local adaptation methods may involve maintaining the quality of water surrounding a forest. In dry regions, sourcing scarce water sources can help maintain a forest by providing healthy sustenance. Another local strategy may be encouraging the increase of rare species of a certain tree to make the population more abundant. This can help particularly if that certain species is a valuable asset to the local community. However, local strategies has its limitations as local information is rarely documented and often preserved for a few members of the community. Also, a globalised market can impact the infrastructure of a local self-sufficient rural community.

In summary, adapting forests for climate change cannot be solved with one over-arching solution. Each forest, depending on region, will need to have specific adaptation strategies specific to that region. As climate change is a complex issue with unpredictable outcomes, adapting for a worst case scenario may be as complex as the issue itself. Therefore, in order to enable sustainable strategies which maintain the health of a forest, it is important to plan and put systems in place to better enable these adaptive strategies.

Sources:

Why climate change is the best investment of the 21st century

In 2014, many powerful leaders came together in New York to speak about the united climate action to tackle the growing global issues. Many voiced the opinion that it costs more to ignore the problem of climate change than to invest in solving the issues.

It was also in the year of 2014 that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released an assessment on climate change science. The report stated that the longer we wait to reduce our emissions, the more expensive it will become. Outlining a key point that to tackle climate change head on and investing in the infrastructure early will help us gain an advantage on the problems which we are now experiencing. Additionally, the report states that to carry on with business as usual will only accelerate climate change and create damage costs beyond what we can accurately assess. This is also key as many today still ignore or deny climate change and their responsibility to it, which will be covered in more depth later.

Although, investment into climate change is essential, some have warned that investing in climate change issues is a complex matter with long-term investment not being so clear cut.

Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

It is now firmly established that climate change is a much needed and important investment for governments and NGOs to focus on in order to help minimise the damage costs of climate change. However, others have highlighted the importance of investing in adaptation measures as well.

A report released in 2019 by the Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA) stated that adaptation measures such as early warning systems would help avoid suffering, economic loss and be economically beneficial. Some of the most crucial climate issues such as drought, rising sea levels and unpredictable weather can all be avoided by preparing with adaptable measures that the report touches on. These adaptive measures can help prevent suffering but also help invest money into the preventing issues before they become too expensive to fix. For example, the report states that rising sea levels may create hundreds of millions of climate refugees moving from coastal cities, creating a total cost to coastal urban areas around $1 trillion each year by 2050.

Additionally, the IPCC is currently preparing the sixth assessment report on climate change which incorporates the idea of adaptation to climate change as well. Therefore, it is absolutely clear that when it comes to climate change prevention is one-hundred percent better than cure.

Photo by hitesh choudhary on Pexels.com

If business is to continue as usual then certain people will continue to profit from the destructive practices which have been normalised in today’s society. For example, in 2011 an incident occurred where Shell had been responsible for an oil spill near the coast of Nigeria. When asked for $5 billion in compensation, Shell refused to pay stating that there was no legal basis for such a fine to exist, thus avoiding the responsibility of the harms they had incidentally caused. It is well known that many companies try to avoid blame, as seen by the oil spills and other incidents globally. However, active climate change denial still has a strong voice and is one of the major barriers to creating concrete solutions against climate change.

The sophistication of climate denial by big business is one that has been compared to the misinformation campaigns led by the tobacco industry from the 1950s to the 1970s. For example, ExxonMobil in the United States being one of the biggest companies in the oil and gas industries, spent $16 million from 1998 to 2005 to produce uncertainty about climate change. This demonstrates the lengths big businesses will go to in order to keep profiteering from the harmful practices that continue to cause millions of people suffering each year. Not only are people losing their homes but many people’s health are at risk from toxic waste dumps as well as millions of acres of habitat and rainforest being lost for the sake of profit.

As we are at a crucial turning point in our planet’s health and our own, one of the most famous naturalists, David Attenborough, has recently stated that this is our last chance to stop wasting resources, time and money. Therefore, in order to rid ourselves of the destructive habits of today’s society, there is great need to actively inspire a healthier change that everyone needs to be apart of in order for it to work.

Sources:

News: California wildfires

In the past decade frequent wildfires have damaged lives and wildlife in various countries. In part wildfires are natural, however with the increasing temperatures we are experiencing around the world demonstrate that the intensity of these wildfires are a result of climate change. Last year the wildfires in Australia are a clear example with approximately 5.9 million hectares of land being burned, an area almost three times the size of Wales (White & Gilbert, 2020). Currently, we are experiencing a similar catastrophe on the West coast of the United States.

The wildfires in California have spread all along the West coast across Oregon and Washington. Many people have died as a result, as well as many acres of wildlife being scorched and habitats lost. Tens of thousands of people are being evacuated from their homes and as the fires continue to spread, people are announcing that this is a climate emergency.


The West coast of the United States is currently dealing with around one-hundred wildfires. Specifically, California is currently experiencing some of the largest wildfires to date whilst simultaneously experiencing its worst drought. The signs which show that this is a result of climate change are clearly visible. As California experiences its worst droughts and hottest temperatures, neighbouring states such as Colorado are experiencing snowy weather and strong winds. One consequence of extreme climate change is unpredictable weather patterns, therefore the situation in the United States demonstrates this clearly. Additionally, strong winds exacerbate the wildfire situation, increasing the probability that it will continue to spread.


However obvious the science may seem, continued denial that climate change is ruining lives and the environment still exists. For example, when President Trump was interviewed about these catastrophic wildfires all along the West Coast, he stated that science didn’t have the answers and that it will get cooler soon. This demonstrates an obvious lack of understanding from the president as decades of scientific research show a clear causation between the increasing temperatures around the world and the frequent wildfires as a result (Young et al. 2018).

Young et al. 2018

Sources:

https://disasterphilanthropy.org/disaster/2019-australian-wildfires/
⦁ White, J. Gilbert, D. (2020) Accessed online: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/01/02/australian-bushfires-numbers-highlight-sheer-scale-unfolding/
https://heavy.com/news/2020/08/california-fire-map-near-me-august-18-evacuations/
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-54130785?intlink_from_url=https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/topics/cjyq4rd3x3zt/california-wildfires&link_location=live-reporting-story
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-54097598?intlink_from_url=&link_location=live-reporting-story
https://www.newsweek.com/trump-dismisses-climate-change-wildfires-blaze-along-west-coast-1531828
⦁ Young, M. Gillett, N. Zwiers, F. Cannon, A. Anslow, F. (2018) ‘Attribution of the Influence of Human-Induced Climate Change on an Extreme Fire Season’. Earth’s Future, 7, pp. 2-10.

News: Plant based diet could remove 16 years of carbon emissions by 2050

As mentioned previously in my earlier post, eating less meat can help to reduce CO2 emissions in the atmosphere in various ways. Analysts have found that meat production and distribution uses a considerable amount of water and contributes to the harmful gases currently in our atmoshpere.


A recent study has been released demonstrating that switching to a more vegetarian diet may help reverse the amounts of CO2 present in the atmosphere. Claiming that a diet consisting predominantly of vegetables and other foods rather than meat will result in a healthier outcome for both you and the planet. Researchers have found that by making this dietary transition could remove sixteen years of harmful emissions by 2050. They claim that unlike large-scale technological solutions, this method is quicker and more efficient at extracting CO2 from the atmosphere.


Additionally, the researchers involved in the study demonstrate the areas of land-use that have been minimised due to meat production:

This highlights an alarming reality where a normalised diet of meat consumption has resulted in the degradation of the planet’s environment. As this is a norm for most of modern society to consume meat and however hard it may be for some people to resist advertisement, such as promoting fast food, there are clear indicators that switching to a more vegetarian diet can aid the planet toward a healthy recovery.


In summary, the profitable but harmful practices of modern day capitalism demonstrate an urgency in people to become more self-aware. This awareness, practiced by simply eating less meat and more, undertaken by the majority can be seen to have tremendous outcomes in repairing our damaged planet. Therefore, the urgency needed for people to act has now become more apparent than ever before.

Sources:
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41893-020-00603-4
https://www.theworldcounts.com/challenges/consumption/foods-and-beverages/environmental-effects-of-meat-production/story

10 ways to minimise climate change on a personal level

Many people today know that the climate changing so drastically is a bad thing but many still do not know why. As scientific research has shown, global warming is causing sea levels to rise, as a result increasing the chances of flooding. Another result of climate change is the unpredictable weather patterns which causes storms to occur more frequent or long droughts which result in a loss of crops for communities that solely rely on those crops. These problems may seem beyond capable to solve for one individual but there are little changes people can make which collective make a big difference.

Factory Farming Is Sweeping the U.K. | Civil Eats

1. Eat less meat: Reports have found that the facilitation of livestock accounts for around 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, this is mainly due to the amount of transportation required. Furthermore, the amount of space it requires to keep livestock has reached an immense scale and continues to rise. For example, many ranchers in Southern America often turn to violence when in competition with indigenous communities for the use of land their livestock require. Therefore, by reducing the consumption of meat, this can help by reducing emissions and alternatively prohibit these animals from living quite depressing lives for the most part.

Family-Biking.jpg (1600×1068)

2. Cycle or use public transport: In 2017 transport was responsible for 21% of all greenhouse gases in Europe alone. Today with everyone deciding to own a personal vehicle it is difficult to want to change your lifestyle and be seen as abnormal. However, deciding to use public transport or cycle is more cost effective and can actually help keep you more active. On top of this, by choosing to share transport or cycle you are actively preventing more environmental harm.

3. Buy less plastic items: Trying to purchase less plastic is understandably quite difficult due to the modern everyday use of plastic everywhere, however there are some alternative s which one can practice such as: buying products made from more biodegradable material, buying products which can be compostable or buying items like fruit and veg from a local market to avoid plastic packaging.

forestry.jpg (1500×1000)

4. Volunteer at a local forestry or nature reserve: Maintaining the few naturally bio-diverse environments in your country can help to repair the damage to the environment. This is done by preserving a natural habitat for various species of life and various species of trees which may be critically endangered. Upon helping to combat the levels of Co2 in the atmosphere, it can also help maintain a natural balance against the constant growth of modern life.

5. Donate to a charity or volunteer to help spread awareness: Donating to a charity which is involved in a big project, perhaps overseas, is a great way to help in ways that you may not be able to. Also, volunteering the raise awareness will help gather more of a support network to tackle the problems which some may not realise are an issue.

6. Use renewable energy: Using renewable energy such as solar panels is a great way to save money on electricity in the long run and also help minimise your carbon footprint. Another way you can do this is buying a hybrid or electric car. Understandably due to the recent production of electric cars they are still quite expensive. However, hybrid cars can be a cheaper alternative and tend not to rely on its petrol alternative as much as one might believe.

7. Using the internet in an environmentally friendly way: Most people today are connected to the internet in some way, for example Google get a round 3.5 billion searches per day on average. Using search engines like Ecosia, which plants a tree every time you search something and it only takes two clicks to install it as a chrome extension.

Grow-your-own-food.jpg (440×310)

8. Grow your own vegetables: Growing your own food is something relatively anyone can start to do and helps by relying less on global supermarkets which are transporting goods constantly. It also helps reduce the amount of plastic waste resulting from packaging.

9. Recycle more: Not only can you recycle more by opting to apply for different bins to separate your recycling but you can also recycle in creative ways as well. For instants, the internet is full of interesting ideas people have created out of plastic or tin cans, whether that be for artistic reasons or practical reasons which can be beneficially utilised.

10. Being conscious about population growth: Today there are more people on the planet than ever before, each of us contributing in some way whether big or small to the climate change problem. By ensuring women are properly provided with birth control and reproductive health options as well as providing education can help minimise any unfortunate situations. Whereas, limiting the amount of children allowed would be a somewhat crude and misguided solution to the growing population.

Sources: