Earth Day 2014: What Matters to Our Earth Today

It’s easy to take the environment for granted as we go about our day-to-day lives. But there are some very serious environmental issues that affect not only the environment in Canada but the whole world. Most of these aren’t new, and action to some degree has been taken to address them by some countries. Unfortunately, there is still more effort and change required, not only by the government but by the people — people just like you and me. To shine a light on some of these issues, how they affect us, and what you can do to help, I’ve picked some of the most important environmental issues of today. By addressing these issues, we can take a step in the right direction toward making our world a more healthy place.

Global Warming

Every day, gases are released into the atmosphere. These gases are caused by the burning of fossil fuels, including coal, natural gas, and oil. These fossil fuels create the energy that we use to operate many of the things that we depend on, such as our cars, for example. The gases that fossil fuels create include carbon dioxide, water vapor, nitrous oxide, chlorofluorocarbons, and methane. These gases rise to the lower atmosphere and build up, causing the temperature of the Earth to rise. When this happens, we see increased temperatures, ice caps melting, and water levels and supply changing. All sorts of insects and other wildlife are affected, too. Some die, and others relocate to new homes because their current habitats are no longer compatible for their needs.

Extreme Weather

Another term you’ve probably heard quite often is “climate change.” This just means that when enough greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere, they can create or force changes to the world’s climate. Climate changes can result in extreme weather conditions such as record heat waves, and stronger than normal snow storms, thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hurricanes. Extreme weather can cost you money, your home and property, or even your life. Droughts from extreme heat might cause fires and loss of property. Storms can cause flooding or extreme winds that can ruin your car or destroy a home. When these things happen, it can mean bad things for your insurance by raising your rates and causing you to file a claim, provided you have flood and wind insurance on your property.

Energy Efficiency and Sustainability

As noted, the burning of fossil fuels plays a big part in global warming because it releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The less fossil fuels that we use, the less we are contributing to global warming and climate change. You can become more energy-efficient by making little changes in your routine. For example, installing a new energy-efficient Energy Star-rated water heater can help with energy-efficiency in the home. Other ways to be more energy-efficient include driving less and taking public transportation more frequently. By conserving energy, we are also conserving our natural resources and protecting the environment. An important part of energy-efficiency is sustainability. This means using sustainable, renewable resources for energy. You might be surprised at the different types of renewable energy sources that are available. Of course, you’ve probably heard a little something about solar energy and how solar energy panels can use the sun as an energy source. This is a great way to not only conserve energy but reduce your independence on it as well. Wind and water are also sustainable sources of energy.