The report was unequivocal in its condemnation of the cause of global warming. There could be “no convincing alternative explanation”, stated the 500-page tome released by US scientists and approved by the White House, other than the fact that human beings and the lives we lead – the cars we drive, the power we burn through and the paper and plastic we waste – were responsible for a one degree Celsius rise in the global average temperature over the past 115 years. Released on Friday, the report compiled by 13 federal agencies sits uncomfortably alongside Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord, making the US the only nation beside Syria not to sign up to the pact.
But it would be a mistake to think the US is the only country with cause for concern. The nature of carving a livelihood in one of the most inhospitable terrains on earth means the UAE has a high carbon footprint but it also has much to lose from a rise in global temperatures and work is underway to curtail the impact of global warming. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, climate change could have a drastic impact on sea levels, agriculture, human health and plant and wildlife. We all have a vested interest in protecting the environment we choose to call home. The government is playing its part with 14 projects underway to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. Public and private institutions are getting on board, such as the Dubai Solar Schools project, which will mean by 2020 a total of 100 schools will be able to save up to 20 per cent in energy costs. The UAE National Climate Change Plan 2050 recognises the need to reduce waste and minimise our impact on the globe.
But it cannot be left to institutions alone to curb the damage. We can all do our bit to limit the extent to which we impact our world, whether it is remembering to turn lights off, buying organic food with less packaging, refusing that plastic bag or composting food scraps. The question we need to ask ourselves is: what have we done today to protect our planet for future generations?