This is not a fairy tale and, therefore, there is no magic global warming solutions. What the Hourglass team will do here is bring up proven solutions to climate change and explain how they work.
By no means do we intend to end the matter with this publication. New solutions must and need to emerge in the near future so that we can reverse the effects of the environmental crisis.
Before thinking about solutions, it is necessary to take a critical look at the consequences that global warming has brought to humans and the rest of planet Earth.
The effects of global warming
Here, we have brought you a summarized version of each of the main proven effects, so that you can have a dimension of what we are facing today.
Polar ice caps melting (Arctic and Antarctica)
We’ve known for years about the planet’s ice melting, but this problem is getting worse. In December 2021, the temperature in the Arctic reached 38° — that’s right, in the Arctic, not on any beach in Rio de Janeiro.
What’s the problem? In addition to the death of hundreds of species that live at the poles, such as polar bears and penguins, there are many problems for humans.
The impact on climate is direct, as melting slows ocean currents, altering the world’s climate, bringing about extreme events such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods or accidental wildfires.
Glaciers also contain almost 70% of the planet’s fresh water. Without glaciers, we could face an unprecedented water crisis. Important to remember: no human being survives more than 5 days without drinking water.
Sea Level Rising
All the ice that melts has to go somewhere, and of course all that water goes straight into the ocean.
Scientists have warned of the dire dangers of rising sea levels. In addition to increasing the chances of tsunamis, rising seas could sweep away hundreds of cities around the planet.
According to a study by the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change), about 200 million people will be affected by sea level rise and 60% of the population in coastal areas will be forced to migrate to other regions.
In addition to the deaths that will be involved and the emotional pain of having to leave their place of origin, many people will lose their homes, jobs, which should cause economic chaos of great proportions.
Lethal Heat Waves
Heat waves are already a reality. You may have seen news about heat waves in some European countries and Canada, which caused hundreds of deaths.
This is because the environment directly interferes with our health and, when a place has a climate that is totally different from its natural one, this has a strong impact on people’s metabolism.
The portion of the population that suffers from metabolic and cardiovascular problems, such as diabetes or hypertension, are very vulnerable to these sudden changes, and can suffer lethal consequences.
But heat waves won’t just be those. The forecast is that in the coming years there will be days of lethal heat in some parts of the world (especially those close to the equator, which you should know about by now).
The consequences of climate change with lethal heat waves are an announced tragedy.
Due to the imbalance in the planet’s climate, such as changes in rainfall cycles and temperature increases, a high frequency of extreme events can be expected.
In addition to being more frequent, these events should become more intense. Some examples are:
- lightning storms
- forest fires
- cold and heat waves.
How to stop climate change effects?
To stop global warming and keep the Earth’s temperature at the target of 1.5°C of warming (which is the minimum possible at this point) we need to move two levers in modern society.
It was proved in 1938 by engineer Guy Callendar that the global warming that we have been experiencing for the last two hundred years is caused by greenhouse gas emissions.
It wasn’t because of a supervolcano or an irregularity in solar activity. Human actions were the cause.
What happens is that the more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the hotter the planet gets. Because this gas and the others of the greenhouse effect, has the power to retain heat within itself.
To avoid climate collapse and solve global warming, we need to stop emitting CO2 (carbon dioxide into the atmosphere) as soon as possible. You may have heard of Net zero, and that’s what it means: zero carbon emissions.
Thinking about a practical example, if you have a fire and you keep throwing wood on it, the tendency is for the fire to stay alive and, probably, to grow.
If you stop feeding the fire, it will burn out before it ceases to exist. That’s the goal.
But, using this same example, we cannot forget a very important fact: the bonfire still exists.
And the longer that fire burns, the more in danger we are of facing the disastrous consequences of climate change. That’s where the second lever comes in.
Even if emissions were to be zeroed today, the planet would still warm by about 2 degrees by 2100. In this context, what we need to do is capture the carbon that is already in the atmosphere.
By moving these two levers, we are perfectly capable of solving the problem for good. Below, we will see some of the alternatives that already exist to move these factors and move towards a healthier environment.
Global warming solutions
Fortunately, we are not at square one. As this problem is not new, there has been plenty of time for scientists and entrepreneurs to think of interesting solutions to the climate crisis.
This is a model that has been very successful. Basically, when captured, sunlight is converted into electrical energy. This is done through photovoltaic panels and in heliothermic plants.
This is a renewable, non-polluting source of energy that requires little maintenance and does not require a very large area to be produced.
Some of the challenges to be overcome in this modality are that the manufacture of panels still requires a lot of energy and prices, for now, are very high in relation to energy from non-renewable sources.
Another point of attention is that energy production is variable according to atmospheric conditions. So you need to find a way to make that energy more efficient.
Places like Canada and other countries with high attitudes, have a very low incidence of solar rays in the winter period, which makes solar energy a challenge in these regions.
Nuclear energy (or atomic energy)
Nuclear energy, also known as atomic energy, is the result of the fission of the nucleus of the enriched uranium atom, which releases a large amount of energy.
Nuclear energy reserves are much larger than fossil fuels, require a much smaller area for production and it is a source of energy that does not contribute anything to the greenhouse effect and climate change.
The challenges of this type of energy is that the cost of power plants is high and a perfect plan for the disposal of atomic waste is needed, as the radioactive material is extremely lethal (as we can see with the example of Chernobyl).
The radiation from the plutonium used in this energy source takes about 50,000 years to become harmless.
This modality, although mega efficient, generates a lot of fear. First, because of the possibility of nuclear accidents, which could end life on Earth. Second, because nuclear power, if used for war purposes, can also destroy our planet in one fell swoop.
Wind energy is one of the big bets for the near future. Generating electricity through a natural and inexhaustible resource such as the event is a clean and healthy solution for the environment.
For this modality, it is necessary to install the so-called wind farms, which have dozens of wind turbines.
Wind turbines work like large weather vanes, which use the kinetic energy of air currents to generate electrical energy.
This is a key source for the energy transition and decarbonization that our planet will need to go through in the next decade.
Compared to other alternative energy sources, wind energy is very cheap and, if made in depopulated areas, it has practically no impact on people’s quality of life.
According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), this modality already employs more than one million people, which is also useful for the economic perspective of climate change.
The sport also has its challenges. Wind turbines endanger flying species such as birds and bats, which can collide with the turbines.
This can affect not just the local birds, but the migratory species that pass through these wind farms.
Another challenge is the high noise of this equipment which, if installed in inhabited areas, can directly interfere with the quality of life of the population that lives around the wind turbines.
In addition, just like solar energy, wind energy depends on the frequency and intensity of the natural phenomenon of winds.
The amount of wind fluctuates a lot according to the altitude and the different seasons. Because of this instability and because there is little demand, the installation of this modal is still expensive.
In the United States, according to the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, 45% of the burning of fossil fuels is used to generate gasoline.
Of the total, 36% are used to generate natural gas for energy purposes. This energy is used to produce electrical energy and heat for buildings and industrial processes.
The remaining 19% of this production is for coal. This was a widely used method for generating energy, but with the drop in the cost of natural gas and renewable energy sources, its use has dropped significantly.
Coal production fell by 50% from 2007 to 2019 and, as a result, carbon emissions from this source also fell. The trend, according to the Energy Information Administration, is for consumption to fall much further by 2050.
With this scenario in mind, electric cars emerge, which are the biggest innovation in the sector since the automobile was invented in 1885.
Electric cars do not use the burning of fossil fuels and therefore do not emit greenhouse gases.
This solution, which does not generate waste for the environment, also requires less maintenance. As they do not use high temperatures for combustion, maintenance of the parts is much less frequent.
Harnessing energy from electric cars is another good news. Batteries use 90% of energy. For comparison, combustion engines, widely used today, use only 40% of the energy they generate.
The battery is among the ecological challenges of this technology. Batteries are still very expensive, their recycling is complicated and their production emits carbon.
In countries like China and Germany, part of the energy that recharges these batteries still comes from coal plants, which are an aggravating factor of climate change.
Another challenge to be overcome is that electric cars are still very expensive compared to combustion-powered cars, precisely because of the batteries. This could delay the global replacement of older cars with more sustainable versions.
Methane: solutions to another global warming problem
We all know that carbon is the main driver of climate change. However, he is not alone in this.
Methane is the second major contributor to the aggravation of the study effect and plays an important role in global warming.
Therefore, it is necessary to create solutions to solve it as well.
The main reason for the excess methane in the atmosphere is the amount of cows that exist on planet Earth today.
Considering our diet is very dependent on meat, milk and its derivatives, humanity has reached an absurd point: there are today 1.22 billion cows in the world.
This data is from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), an agency linked to the UN. The numbers are so frightening that in Brazil, a major meat exporter, there are more cows than human beings.
This is a very profitable industry that dumps millions of tons of methane into the atmosphere every year through the digestion process.
Cow’s methane in global warming: solutions
The concern around methane emissions is great, since our dependence on agriculture in the economy is very high.
Therefore, it would be impossible, overnight, to cut the head of cattle in half, to reduce the levels of methane emitted by half. However, it is a much easier solution to implement.
The company DSM, a Dutch specialty chemicals brand, found that the inclusion of additives such as 3-nitrooxypropanol or Bovaer reduces methane emissions in dairy cattle by between 20% and 35%.
The best part is that this new formula has already been studied by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and received a positive review.
According to the analysis, in addition to reducing methane (which is a greenhouse gas), the new formula is safe for dairy cows and milk consumers.
New tests must be carried out for beef cattle so that the technology can be implemented throughout the production process.
One of the most pleasant and productive solutions to global warming.
Currently, our mass planting model is extremely damaging to the soil.
The world is a model of massive agriculture, which continuously exploits soil nutrients.
This causes the soil to become diseased and weaker fruits and vegetables to germinate.
This weakness makes agricultural products more vulnerable to pests, which are a natural challenge for the sector.
To circumvent this logic, large farmers have increasingly increased the amount of pesticides to prevent the crop from being lost.
As a result, a food with low bioavailability and with dozens of types of embedded poisons arrives on the population’s table.
The impact on the population’s quality of life would be enough, but this agrarian model is also a problem of climate change.
This unsustainable practice demands new hectares of land from time to time, since the soil cannot sustain the constant aggressions for a long time.
The land at that location loses its ability to “heal itself” and it gradually becomes desertified, a serious problem of the climate crisis.
It is in this context that regenerative agriculture emerges — much practiced by indigenous peoples for centuries, but “rediscovered” since 1980 by the American Robert Rodale – which you can see in Kiss the Ground docummentary on Netflix.
Some of the practices carried out in this model are crop rotation, which helps in writing down weeds and pests, and no-till planting, with minimal soil disturbance, which guarantees soil quality.
This all means that there is a reduction in the use of chemical inputs, replacing them with bio-inputs that help in pest management and disease control.
The techniques have already been widely used. Brazil is one of the pioneer countries in regenerative agriculture and many companies such as Nestlé, the largest food brand in the world, are expected to invest more than USD 6 billion dollars in the modality.
All over the planet, indigenous peoples play a very important role in solving global warming.
If there are still trees on this planet, it is because the different native peoples have a culture of production and existence that respects the limits of the environment.
In countries like Brazil, there are laws that determine certain territories as environmental reserves, ensuring that this space remains untouched.
However, this fundamental right is always affected by agribusiness, which through criminal fires deforest the area, killing biodiversity to claim that the territory no longer needs to be considered an environmental reserve.
Defending and financing the struggle of indigenous peoples is the best way to fight deforestation. Without trees, we lose the greatest natural power in capturing carbon from the atmosphere. Without trees, we are abandoned.
Donate to fight climate change
If you want to stop global warming, you need to do more than wearing a climate change t-shirt or write a poster. There’s several organizations that are actually help to re-build the forests, clean the ocean, preserve species and do a eletricity revolution to reach net zero.
Wanna make part of it? You’re welcome! The Hourglass project helps monthly different organization with one single goal: restore the planet.
Find out how you can help.
Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (resumed)
It’s a law of the State of California, made in 2006, a time when fighting global warming wasn’t as mainstream and obvious as it is today.
The proposal of the law is to reduce GHG emissions to the same levels as in 1990 (15% below what would be expected for the year 2020).
The gases included under AB 32 are:
- Carbon dioxide (CO2)
- Methane (CH4)
- Nitrous oxide (N2O)
- Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)
- Perfluorocarbons (PFCs)
- Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)
- Trifluoride Nitrogen (NF3)
This law was implemented in 2008, with measures to monitor and inspect the emission of these gases, legal mechanisms that encourage the reduction, until reaching the end of 2020, to reach the 15% reduction target.
The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 was one of the most successful US legislation on global warming.
The law brought many regulations for emissions and efficient incentive programs for different industrial sectors.
Through a collective effort between the government and companies, the reduction target was reached in 2016, four years earlier than planned.
FAQ about global warming
Are there any global warming solutions?
Yes, there’s a lot of feasible alternatives for reducing emissions and stop climate change. They are focused on alternative energy sources and methane reduction.
How to help in the climate change battle?
Individual acts aren’t powerful enough to change our fate. It’s essential to vote for candidates that have a solid plan to avoid a climate change collapse.
This includes changing the most used energy sources, the livestock model most used today, stopping burning fossil fuels and investing in regenerative agriculture.
So you can vote right and join NGOs for reforestation, recycling and more. Also, helping projects that talk about it on social media or websites such as Hourglass help people to make a difference everyday.
What organizations are looking for global warming solutions?
You can find a lot of organizations for fighting climate change, such as Mission Blue, WWF, Earth Justice or Nature Conservancy. There’s a long list and a lot of people acting right now. Do some research and choose the one that better fits your beliefs.
Where to find good information about global warming?
You can look at the IPCC website (International Panel on Climate Change). This is the most secure source of information to anything related to climate change.
This organization prepares reports that come from the work of more than 3 thousand scientists every year and it’s the major responsible for the governmental and corporate actions on climate change we’ve seen in the last two decades.