Sustaining Environmental Quality

Discussion

Unit 6: Sustaining environmental quality

In less than one sentence, this report is about climate change. Before explaining it further I believe that to fully comprehend what climate change is we should understand its definition, I would define it as the change (negative) of climate due to the increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that comes as a result of using fossil fuels (perhaps ‘over-use’ is better suited). It includes major changes in temperature, precipitation, or wind patterns etc. that occur over a long time (Doršner, 2015 pg. 252).The Merriam Webster dictionary simply defines it as - “Changes in the Earth’s weather patterns” (Merriam Webster, n.d.)

This report particularly focuses on the risks that are in support of the decisions made towards climate change issues. It assesses a wider base of scientific, technical and socio economic literature. It is divided into three main sections (A, B, C) A, explains the observed impacts, vulnerability, and the adaptive responses. B, examines future challenges in terms of risks and the potential benefits. And C, explores the principles for effective adaption with the broader interactions among adaption, mitigation, and development that is sustainable.

The climate change vulnerabilities identified for Africa are as follows:

  • There is amalgamated stress on our water resources. They are facing major strain from overexploitation and degradation occurring right now and there’ll be an increasing demand in the future. The stress of drought is worsening in the drought-prone regions of Africa. (high confidence)
  • There is reduced crop productivity which is linked to heat and drought stress, along with strong adverse effects on livelihoods and food security on regional, national, and household levels. Including an increase on pest and disease damage, as well as flood impacts on food system infrastructure. (high confidence)
  • Because of the changes in the mean and variability of temperature and precipitation that has occurred-specifically along the edges of their distribution-changes in the incidence and geographic range of vector and water-borne diseases has occurred. (medium confidence)

To be honest I was not surprised, for the fact that these are problems that the African continent has been dealing with for a long time. In the case of food security, for about 75 years children in parts of Africa have been suffering from Kwashiorkor (a disease that occurs from a malnutrition associated with protein-according to most medical professionals). In the case of droughts and water shortage, in 2015 the city of Cape Town (South Africa) started experiencing a water shortage crisis and only recently (March 2018) have the measures (reducing daily water consumption) started showing effect. With water borne diseases there have been many issues, in my doctor’s office there is a chart with methods to use for cleaning water in order to prevent cholera (e.g. adding a tablespoon of bleach- I can’t remember it’s ratio to water) or boiling water before consumption. However there are initiatives (e.g. educating people, UN relief etc.) in place to help solve these problems and or lower the risks associated with them. 

The adaptation measures that have been proposed for addressing global climate change in my region include:

  • Reaching developmental objectives, such as improving the community’s access to safe water and improved sanitation. This can be achieved on a social level, through educational programs that would be aimed at raising awareness, sharing culture and local knowledge etc. It can also be achieved through encouraging and influencing behavioural patterns, such as agricultural practices, water conservation, and reducing pollution.
  • Strengthening institutions at all levels (local, national, and regional) to support agriculture (including early warning systems) in the form of financial aid that would go towards Insurance, Catastrophe bonds, Payments for ecosystem services etc. They could further be strengthened through laws and regulations that would be aimed at building standards and practices, fishing quotas, protected areas etc. Lastly they could be strengthened by national and government policies and programs through municipal water management programs, disaster planning & preparedness, integrated water resource management etc.
  • Reducing non-climate stressors on water resources can be achieved through services. E.g. through the means of the municipality with regards to both water and sanitation. Technology can be used in the sense of irrigation as well as creating technology with the purpose of saving water-eco-friendly dishwashers are made to use about 50% less water compared to hand washing (The Eco Market, n.d. para. 5). And in the case of poorer communities, grey water (uncontaminated) could be used to water crops for example.
  • Diversifying livelihoods is another option that can be achieved through economic empowerment e.g. teaching people how to plant their own gardens and improving their access to local resources. In the case of a financial schemes I would suggest Stokverls- when a group of people put money together at the end of every month and give one member that money in an effort to reduce financial stress - for poorer communities or individuals this would give them an opportunity to switch from processed foods to more organic food.

In my opinion the best adaption measure is reducing the non-climate stressors on our water resources. Why? Because firstly our water resources are in danger-it is estimated that for the next fifty years the demand for water will grow from 30% to 85% (Corvalan et al., 2005, pg. 8). Secondly this is a measure that we can all get involved in. The excuses people normally make, like: “I don’t understand how” or “It’s too much work, I don’t have the time” can no longer be made. Something as simple as turning off the tap when brushing your teeth, or taking shorter showers is helping in the effort to reduce non-climate stressors on our water resources and climate change as a whole.  All that is required of everyone is compassion and a bit of effort.

I would lower my climate impact through my electricity usage, and I am currently lowering it through my diet. Changing my source of power would help the climate by lowering my environmental footprint. I’m currently being provided with electricity generated from coal. I would like to switch to solar power, if it wasn’t for the cost of equipment and installation I would have done so already. I used to consume protein in the form of meat, until a year ago I cut it out of my diet for a healthier lifestyle. I didn’t know this until recently, but a vegan diet of all diets has the lowest impact on the environment (OMEGA, 2014, para. 9). Omnivores can lower their impact too by reducing their meat intake, making your diet more plant based is beneficial to your health, the animals and the planet.

References

Climate change (n.d.). Retrieved May 17, 2018, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/climate%20change

Corvalan, C. Hales, S. McMichael, A. Butler, C. Campbell-Lendrum, D. Confalonieri, U….Younes, M. (2005). A Report of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Retrieved from www.millenniumassessment.org/documents/document.356.aspx.pdf

Doršner, K. (2015, January 8). Essentials of Environmental Science. Retrieved from www.ck12.org

OMEGA (2014, January 24). 3 Biggest Ways to Reduce Your Environmental Impact. Retrieved from https://www.eomega.org/article/3-biggest-ways-to-reduce-your-environmental-impact

The Eco Market (n.d.). Best Dishwasher Usage Practices. Eco Friendly Dishwashers. Retrieved from http://www.the-eco-market.com/eco-friendly-dishwashers/

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