06 December, 2009

Be the Change!

In the next few days, World leaders will decide on how to control the effects of Climate Change. Many countries will be at Copenhagen for the conference, but only a handful of rich, powerful countries' decision will matter. For the poor, developing nations, like Yemen - although they have the least adverse effect on climate and are the most affected by Climate Change, they will have the least say at the conference.

Developing countries account for very little of the global greenhouse emissions, and yet poor nations will suffer the most as climate continues to change. Being one of the most water scarce regions, the Middle East is particularly vulnerable to Climate Change. Heavy rains and floods, as happened in Hadhramout in late 2008; and recently in Saudi Arabia - can be very devastating. The adverse effects of last years rains here, and the flooding that followed - are still being felt today.

If global warming continues and temperature rises by just 1.5º Celcius - the cost to Middle East countries, will be even more. Whichever way climate change affects the Middle East - causing drought or more heavy rains and flooding - it will be a cause of much suffering and hardship to many. Drought and lack of rain, can be as devastating as having heavy rains. Many parts of Yemen, this year, are dry; less food has been harvested. Meaning more hunger. Already, there is much less water now in Syria and Jordan than there was a few years ago; rivers are drying up. It's reported that even the mighty Nile, has less water now. And so are the Euphrates and the Tigris.

Climate Change has a ripple, domino effect. By causing less rain or heavier rain, crops will either not grow or will be destroyed by flooding. Meaning less food will be produced; meaning the prices of  food going up. Flooding too, leads to diseases - like: malaria and diarrhea, two of the deadliest. And if it rains less, it leads to drought and drying rivers; which in turn leads to multitudes abandoning farming and moving to urban centers, as is happening in Syria and in many other Arab countries. As more people move away from farming, less food is produced forcing the importing of more food; importing more food - food which is already expensive - diverts financial resources that could be used in providing for other necessities for a country. All these, in turn lead to more malnourished children, more hunger, more misery and more people dying. Hunger and the shortage of food, causes civil strife and disturbances. Leading to countries being destabilized. And more crime.

Most of us will not have a say in Copenhagen; only very few will. Only, very few will decide But, each of us - can play our part in reversing Global Warming. There are certain things we can do. Very simple things. Things that if each of us does, will help in making our World a better place - not only for us to live in - but for our children and the future generations too:
  • Change a light. Replacing a regular light bulb with a compact fluorescent one saves much carbon dioxide each year. Fluorescent light bulbs/tubes, are expensive; but, they are clean and in the long run, one actually saves more.  
  • Drive less. Walk, bike, or take mass transportation. Cars and trucks run on fossil fuels, which release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. And walking and biking means being much more healthier too.
  • Recycle more and buy recycled. Save a huge amount of carbon dioxide each year by recycling half of your household waste. By recycling and buying products with recycled content you also save energy, resources and landfill space.
  • Check your tires. Properly inflated tires mean good gas mileage. For each gallon of gas saved, loads of carbon dioxide are also never produced. With so many cars on Middle Eastern roads, and the numbers increasing fast - using cars properly would make a tremendous difference. Not only in using less gas, but in saving lives too, as there would be less accidents.
  • Use less hot water and use water carefully. It takes a lot of energy to heat water. Reducing the amount used means big savings in not only your energy bills, but also in carbon dioxide emissions. Very few places on Earth, use - waste? - water such as is being done in the wealthy Gulf Arab countries; and yet these countries are in some of the driest parts of the world. Using more water, means using more desalination plants, leading to more pollution and more climate change.
  • Avoid products with a lot of packaging. Preventing waste from being created in the first place means that there is less energy wasted and fewer resources consumed. When you purchase products with the least amount of packaging, not only do you save money, but you also help the environment.
  • Adjust your thermostat. By adjusting your thermostat, it would mean using the air-conditioner less during summers and winters.
  • Plant a tree. A single tree can absorb one ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime; and produces oxygen for us to breathe. How many people in the Middle East plant trees? Here in Hadhramout, the contrary is happening. More and more trees are being chopped off and very few, if any, are being planted.
  • Turn off electronic devices when not in use. Simply turning off your TV, VCR, AC, computer and other electronic devices can enormously save each household of carbon dioxide each year. In most of the houses here and especially, in the wealthier neighboring countries - each household has several electric devices. These devices are carelessly used. 
  • Last but not least - avoid using plastic bags. Or at least, avoid throwing them around carelessly. The Middle East is awash with plastic bags and bottles. Wherever one goes, there are the inevitable plastic bags and bottles. If we only knew how destructive and harmful they are, I am certain most of us would avoid them. Read this and this and you will understand what I mean.
And be informed:

By joining or supporting Greenpeace.

By supporting the World Wildlife Fund.

By having more information: here, here, here, here and here.