Ever since the advent of industrialization, there has been an increase in the emission of several greenhouse gases (GHG) mainly due to the burning of fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide emissions account for 80% of global warming of GHG emission, as compared with 57% in the 1980s (Lashof & Ahuja, 1990). Panwar, Kaushik & Kothari (2011) also states that excessive fossil fuel consumption will have adverse impacts on the environment, and increase threat of global climate change. Fortunately, more and more countries are starting to be aware of climate change, which comes as a result of the increase of emission of GHG. Therefore, various proposals to reduce emission of GHG have been drawn up to suggest possible solutions to reduce the impact of climate change. While all of these proposals are useful to reduce emission of GHG, some will be more practical and effective due to other problems, which may arise.
One of these proposals includes developing more non-polluting renewable energy sources (RES). This is a practical way to reduce the impact of climate change as it directly reduces GHG emissions. Currently, RES supply 14% of the total world energy demand (Panwar et. al., 2011). RES includes biomass, hydropower, geothermal, solar, wind and marine energies. By harnessing energy from RES, dependence on conventional energy sources that produce GHG will be reduced. For example, solar energy is the most abundant RES and is available as both direct and indirect form. Solar energy can be used directly in solar thermal applications, or indirectly in photovoltaic systems to generate electricity. Carbon dioxide (CO2) emission mitigation potential from 1.8kWp solar pump is about 2085kg from diesel-operated pumps (Panwar et. al., 2011). Therefore, by using RES, we can directly reduce the GHG emissions by moving away from energy sources that produce GHG. This is also the most practical solution as RES are readily available and abundant all around us. What needs to be done is to build the infrastructure required to harness RES so we can become less reliant on GHG-producing energy sources and thus reduce GHG emissions.
Another such proposal involves reforestation to “soak up” more CO2. Reforestation is the next most effective solution as it also deals with removing CO2 emissions directly from the atmosphere. Trees have the ability to absorb CO2 and convert it to stable carbon “sinks” in the form of biomass stored in trunks, branches and organic matter in the soils (Moulton & Andrasko, 1990). This carbon “sequestration” is important as it removes CO2 in the atmosphere and locks it in wood that can be used for furniture and other construction applications. In addition, reforestation offers an opportunity for emission control investments (Niskanen, 1997). However, it may not be as practical as developing more non-polluting RES as reforestation requires a large area of land and not many countries will be willing to give up land space, which could potentially bring economic benefit. Also, reforestation efforts are expensive. According to Moulton and Andrasko (1990), a budget of $65 million is proposed in the USA for the President’s proposed tree-planting initiative. This huge amount coupled with limited economic benefits the country will gain from reforestation may deter governments from supporting the proposal. Thus, while reforestation provides a sink for CO2, it may not be a practical solution due to economic and land concerns. Governments must be able to prioritise the long-term environmental benefits involved to make better decisions.
The next proposal involves reducing energy use by conservation. By reducing energy use by conservation, the global energy demand will be reduced, and thus less non-renewable energy sources will be burnt at power plants, reducing GHG emissions. This is another possible solution to reduce GHG emissions. For example, this can come by using solid-state lighting instead of incandescent bulbs. Government...
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