How to do our bit for the environment

More than 70% of Earth is covered in water, producing more than 50% of our Oxygen, and absorbing around 30% of carbon dioxide produced by humans (UN) from burning fossil fuels.

Yesterday’s World Environment Day, and World Oceans Day later in the week, draw attention to the impact we are all having on our Earth, so we need to be mindful of our actions and how we can try to help. 

Major contributors affecting our planet

From Dubai’s pearl-diving heritage through to today’s fishing industry, the UAE has a close bond with the water. Our demand from the oceans is vast, from providing the oxygen we breathe, food and water we consume, jobs for our fishermen, and the renewable energy to fuel our daily lives. 

Today, the majority of UAE’s drinking water comes from the desalination of seawater according to Tappwater, a process that consumes considerable amounts of energy. The UAE’s further demand for large quantities of water is to fuel air-conditioners, to combat extreme temperatures faced in the Emirates. 

The oceans support global warming by absorbing human-produced carbon dioxide, which raises acidity levels, severely impacting the marina-life and corals as a result of the continuous increase in CO2 being produced.

Sea levels are rising… you would have heard the statement many times before, the reason behind this is the unique function the oceans play in regulating earth’s temperature, absorbing excess heat to cool the earth resulting in water expansion, this coupled with the melting polar ice caps are raising sea levels. This sacrifice by the ocean again comes at the cost of marine life and corals.

Excessive plastic usage. Plasticoceans identified that each year 50% of all plastics produced are single-use, as much as 10 million tons end up in our oceans, leaching toxic chemicals into the water, and as many as 1 million animals are killed because of plastic pollution. 

Do your bit in 5 simple steps

Simple steps, even small ones, will make a huge difference in the bigger picture, the joint effect of individuals working towards the same goal will have a profound global impact. Here are a few starting points which you can apply right away:

1) Conserve energy – Set thermostat to 24°C and switch to auto (every degree higher consumes 5% lower AC consumption, DEWA).

2) Conserve water and prevent waste runoff – Don’t leave taps running, try drip-watering house and garden plants, and you really don’t need to wash your car 3 times a week!

3) Use fewer, or ideally no single-use plastics (use re-usable where possible). Treat yourself to a thermos and have your barista fill your daily coffee into that, this will bypass the plastic-lined disposable cups. 

4) Reduce your carbon footprint (use public transport when possible). The UAE has a fantastic infrastructure in place, so take advantage of the metro, tram or taxi service.

Additionally, shopping locally reduces the carbon footprint and air pollution created from goods shipped from afar. Local produce is fresher and supports the economy!

5) The fun one… go scuba diving! Get submerged and experience the world below first-hand, to understand the precious resource we are harming. You can support one of the many organisations operating ocean clean-up drives, collecting plastics and other man-made rubbish which ends up in the sea and harms marine life, such as disposable the face masks which fish are becoming caught in. 

To sum up

If we collectively make smarter choices in our everyday routines, we can each contribute our part in creating a favourable future. Basic considerations such as reducing single-use plastics, adjusting thermostats and being considerate with water consumption all help. 

If we can, as a minimum, understand the cause and effects discussed in this article, it creates a starting step in understanding the problem and beginning the journey to take the required action to support our planet. 

For further educational insights, tune in to the presentation on World Ocean Day (8th June) which will be held by unworldoceansday.

An article by Gautam Gajjar.