According to Thompson Reuters Foundation, last week ex-President Obama said that while politicians can guide climate change policies, it’s the businessmen seeking to cut on energy consumption and waste, or mothers taking action out of concern for the future of their children that can make a real difference.
By Victoria Womersley
Is Obama right? Each and every one of us leaves a carbon footprint as we go about our daily lives- driving to work or school, consuming energy to cook food, watching the news at night, or reading this article on the internet. It all adds up. The carbon emissions per person around the world sometimes belies a country’s total emissions figure. For example, China is known to be the current ‘world leader’ in creating carbon emissions that contribute to global warming at a total of around 6018mil metric tonnes of carbon dioxide each year and growing, in comparison to America’s 5903mil in 2007. It would be reasonable to think that the average Chinese person is creating more waste and using more energy than the average American. Don’t be mislead by these statistics.
Per capita figures for carbon emissions per country show that the average American is responsible for 19.8 tonnes per person, whereas the average Chinese citizen clocks in at 4.6 tonnes. UK citizens clock up at 9.7 (explained in part by relatively CO2-light gas power stations), Australians create a massive 20.6 tonnes per person party due to the use of coal to create electricity. Developing countries – often blamed for creating much more pollution that already developed nations due to their growing industries and lack of technology – are actually creating a fraction of the emissions that the West do. India produces a mere 1.2. Poorer African nations such as Kenya have a per capita a footprint of just 0.3 tonnes (a figure that’s likely to drop even lower with the country’s surge in wind power). So, is Obama on to something?
All of the decisions we make in our daily lives have a rippling effect across our nation and the world. Every single one of our decisions has an impact- will it support a further pull on carbon emitting resources, or support the increased use of renewable resources?
As much as we might like to blame our governments or political will (or lack of) for not doing more; people power begins with me and you. Each of us can tip the balance in favour of renewable resources, increased recycling, technologies that work to clean our air, water and world from the pollution we have all been responsible for, simply by considering the products we buy, the utilities that we use, reducing our own waste, and choosing local produce. If we all cut our own footprints, the world’s emissions would be cut massively. There are plenty of resources out there to help us do it too – organisations like Klooker and Incredible Edible are just two – that help us think more about what we’re supporting with our pounds and help us turn the tide on global warming and other world issues that affect us all.
[Picture Credit: Caitlin Noble. Molly Newhouse hold a hand-painted poster for a climate change march at a sign making event].