Climate Change & What We Can Do About It
Climate change is a phenomenon that affects the entire planet. Climate is not the short-term weather condition of a place but rather the long-term weather conditions averaged over a period of 30 years or more. Major precipitation and temperature changes that last for many decades contribute to climate change. Any significant variation in measures of climate extending over long periods of time is referred to as climate change.
Human activities such as deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels (eg, coal, oil) have led to the climate change that is imminent. These activities have ushered in a new era of climate change characterised by global warming and sea level rise. Worldwide changes in average climatic conditions are not simply affecting distant places and wild species, such as the drowning of polar bears due to melting of the Arctic ice shelf. Climate change is already affecting us in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean.
How Does Climate Change Affect Us? The effects of climate change include:
What Can We Do? Here are a few things that we can do in Jamaica to help reduce climate change:
In order to reduce the effects of climate change we need to act now, to prevent future regrets. We can each play a role at the individual, community or national level. Some of these efforts will require lifestyle or political changes. However, these changes will result in long-term financial savings, business profitability, job creation, protection of biodiversity and a healthier human populace.
- - - Chandra Degia, PhD, is an Environmental Consultant
What is an SDG?
It sounds a little like a food additive, doesn’t it! Seriously, though, this acronym stands for Sustainable Development Goals – global targets set by the United Nations (UN), which all member countries signed onto in 2015 at the UN General Assembly. There are 17 of them, and they are all connected, so that doing well (or not so well) in one will affect another. The SDG vision is to “Leave No One Behind,” aiming to bring our most vulnerable citizens up first, before working on the large goals.
First, what does “sustainable” mean? We need to break it down. In essence, sustainability is something that will last; that can be renewed; that can be handed down for future generations. Most importantly, sustainability means something that will not be used up. There is always something saved for generations to come. We must nurture what we already have, and build resilience going forward. We must find the right balance between our lives and families, our work and aspirations, and caring for the environment. It’s a tough one, but we must find a way.
The United Nations Development Programme office in Jamaica keeps an eye on our progress with the SDGs, and provides updates (as it does with countries around the world). So, how is our island doing? As we explore each SDG in future issues (starting with the Big One: No Poverty) we will take a look at this in detail. Meanwhile, click here to find out more about why the SDGs are important to us.
Like Jamaica’s own Vision 2030 (the island’s National Development Plan), we are supposed to achieve the SDGs by the same year, 2030. The theme of leaving no one behind also ties in very closely with Vision 2030, which has as its top goal “Jamaicans are empowered to achieve their fullest potential.” That means every Jamaican, including our most vulnerable citizens. Goal 2 is to ensure a secure and just society and good governance; Goal 3 is for a prosperous economy; and Goal 4 is about the importance of our natural environment, including preparing for the dangers and disasters that climate change might bring.
How important is this in today’s complex world! Stay tuned as we explore each one of these goals in the current context of COVID-19 (which has changed everything), climate change, and other concerns that we live with every day: growing inequality, social unrest, and food security.
Yes, these are daunting problems, indeed. However, the SDGs tackle these issues in a proactive way. They are all about looking to the future and finding solutions. They are a planning tool for governments, civil society, private sector organizations, and citizens who are looking to head in the right direction. What kind of future does Jamaica want? As we move past and slowly emerge from the “COVID era,” what changes would we like to see? Perhaps our lenses need adjusting. Let’s think about it.
Here is a list of the UN Sustainable Development Goals:
Goal 1: NO POVERTY: End poverty in all its forms everywhere
Goal 2: ZERO HUNGER: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture
Goal 3: GOOD HEALTH AND WELL-BEING: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
Goal 4: QUALITY EDUCATION: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Goal 5: GENDER EQUALITY: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Goal 6: CLEAN WATER AND SANITATION: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
Goal 7: AFFORDABLE AND CLEAN ENERGY: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
Goal 8: DECENT WORK AND ECONOMIC GROWTH: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all
Goal 9: INDUSTRY, INNOVATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Goal 10: REDUCED INEQUALITIES: Reduced inequality within and among countries
Goal 11: SUSTAINABLE CITIES AND COMMUNITIES: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable
Goal 12: RESPONSIBLE CONSUMPTION AND PRODUCTION: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Goal 13: CLIMATE ACTION: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Goal 14: LIFE BELOW WATER: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development
Goal 15: LIFE ON LAND: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
Goal 16: PEACE, JUSTICE AND STRONG INSTITUTIONS: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Goal 17: PARTNERSHIPS FOR THE GOALS: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
To learn more about each SDG, click on the boxes below.
Plastic Free July is a global movement which aims to help millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution. – so we can have cleaner streets, oceans, and beautiful communities.
In the spirit of Live ECCO we are continuing to make going green easy, simple and fun and exciting. We have created a weekly challenge for you. Under the theme of the 4R's: reduce, reuse and recycle + refuse, we will guide you on ways to lower your impact this month.
Here's a sneak peek:
Glass is one of the most popular materials recycled today, both because of the purity of the ingredients and the quick turnaround of recycling. Your glass containers actually begin their life as readily-available domestic materials, such as sand, soda ash or limestone.
Glass makes up a large component of household and industrial waste due to its weight and density. It is not biodegradable, and so, can have negative impacts on the environment and/or health through the accumulation of litter. In addition, broken glass is often a key factor in starting bush fires, which can have a devastating effect on the environment and impact on the health of nearby populations.
Why recycle glass
The good news is that glass is 100% recyclable with no loss to quality or purity of new product. Scrap glass or cullet, as it is more commonly known, is a key production ingredient added to the raw materials used to produce glass. Recycling glass containers provides for unmatched production efficiencies and significant environmental benefits.
What to Recycle
Recycle Glass Containers Only - Check to make sure it’s a bottle or jar.
Keep It Clean - Keep out all non-container glass.
The foundation for any waste management program is the three R’s - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Typically the first step to manage your waste is by never generating them in the first place. If you are able to reduce all feasible waste, the next step then focuses on ways to reuse materials in an effort to extend the life of the item. Finally, recycle all the remaining materials that are accepted locally.
A fourth, in some circles, R – re-buy - encourages the use of products that contained recycled material. This assists in providing an incentive to recyclers.
Proper waste management allows organisations to reduce costs and liabilities. It also allows householders to take control of the waste generated, especially as the collection of waste has become sporadic in recent times. In addition to protecting the environment, proper waste management benefits the country through reducing waste accumulation at our disposal sites or landfills.
Let’s take a look at each of these elements and how they contribute to better management of our waste.
The best way to stick to your plan of proper waste management is to not generate the waste in the first place. Consider the following list to help you on your way:
See below a few options on ways to reduce your use of disposables.
We all generate waste every day in some form. To help reduce the amount of waste you generate, look for ways to reuse the items by finding a new purpose or use for it. Some simple ideas include reusing old tablecloths or sheets for cleaning rags, reusing containers for storage for example. And for all those people who still print on single-sided office paper turn the unused paper into scratch work.
Most things are like cats - they have multiple lives. It's simply up to us to let them live out their lives!
Once a product has exhausted its lives, make it part of the great cycle - send it back to start over again as something new!
DID YOU KNOW?
Finally, if we need to "close the loop" of the waste management cycle and encourage recycling Consumers should purchase products that contain post-consumer recyclable material as this will encourage manufacturers to use more recycled material in their products than natural/virgin resources.
We, as consumers, are able to drive the demand for recycled products and contribute to the sustainability of the industry.
Your guide to recycling codes on plastics and which ones are recycled in Jamaica
Number 1 Plastics
PET or PETE (polyethylene terephthalate) a relatively cheap and strong transparent plastic found in soft drink and water bottles; mouthwash bottles; peanut butter, salad dressing and vegetable oil containers; ovenable food trays.
Number 2 Plastics
HDPE (high density polyethylene) a strong, transparent plastic with good resistance against chemicals. Pigments are used to add colour and often used for juice bottles, bleach, detergent and household cleaner, pill and shampoo bottles; motor oil bottles; some butter and yogurt tubs.
Number 3 Plastics
V (Vinyl) or PVC is tough and weathers well, so it is commonly used for piping, siding and similar applications. Never burn PVC, because it releases toxins.
Number 4 Plastics
LDPE (low density polyethylene) a tough highly flexible plastic used for squeezable bottles, dry cleaning and shopping bags, and carpet.
Number 5 Plastics
PP (polypropylene) a strong light plastic with a high melting point, and so is often chosen for containers that must accept hot liquid like some yogurt and ice cream containers, syrup bottles and ketchup bottles.
Number 6 Plastics
PS (polystyrene) is stiff and rigid used in disposable cutlery, plates and cups and CD cases. Alternatively they can also be used to make food containers, which are now banned in Jamaica.
Number 7 Plastics
Other – A wide variety of plastic resins that don’t fit into the previous categories are lumped into number 7.
In Jamaica # 1 PET/PETE and #2 HDPE are currently being collected for recycling.
Composting is the recycling of plant and other organic matter. This process results in an earthy material that is great for enriching the soil.
Composting is crucial to our efforts to preserve the environment. By recycling these materials we are not only reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfills we are also creating a more fertile environment to produce our own organic fruits and vegetables. Composting can reduce yard waste picked up by the garbage truck by anywhere from 50 to 75%.
Let us try to compost simple items we would normally throw away:
Time, as with anything else, is another critical element to successful composting. It takes approximately six to eight months for organic materials to fully break down. Occasional turning of your compost pile can assist in the breakdown of organic material and facilitate aeration. However, another school of thought states that this process is a natural one and would occur without any human intervention so it can be left on its own. Occasional turn won't hurt, especially since you'll be adding new material regularly.
It is important to note that while all organisms could possibly be composted, some are not recommended for composting. The organisms on the DO NOT USE list are not recommended because they attract rodents, other pests and sometimes create offensive odours. In addition some may create an adverse result. These include:
Composting is a natural process that we merely facilitate. It requires just a little thought and effort in order to reap the benefits of an environment preserved for future generations. This is one of the little habits that we can get into that will have a positive effect. Take some time look at your back yard, pick a spot. Rally your family, neighbours and friends and get going. It’s too easy and important not to.
CARIBBEAN ENVIRONMENT WEEK OVERVIEW:
The Caribbean faces a range of environmental challenges. We already know the problems: decline in biodiversity; waste management and our “plastic problem”; the urgent need for sustainable development, not “business as usual,” as we move towards economic growth; financing for sustainable development; and planning and designing for a more sustainable future in our urban areas. The overarching, ever-present phenomenon of climate change is having an impact on every aspect of our economy and livelihoods; is the Caribbean building sufficient resilience and placing priority on disaster preparedness?
This inaugural series of discussions aims to provoke a free flow of ideas on some of the solutions to these issues. When the week is over, we plan to have some clear pointers for further discussion, planning, and implementation, which we will present to our expert participants and followers on social media. Moving forward!