One of the most serious and dangerous threats to the environment that humankind faced in the 21th century is global warming. It is a climate change that has been observing since the 1950s. The average temperature on the surface of Earth has been rising gradually, and it caused the deserts expanding, increasing the sea levels and changes in the precipitations. Among the initial causes of global warming there are the following: greenhouse gases, volcanic eruptions, solar luminosity and the Earth’s orbit variations. Talking about the last three ones, they cannot be managed by human. But greenhouse gases emission may be significantly decreased due to the different human activities.
The state of California adopted the “Global Warming Solution Act” in 2006. According to it, greenhouse gas emission will be decreased by 2050. To achieve this goal, the various actions should be made. In order to succeed in decreasing greenhouse gas emission both the government and the citizens of the state of California should participate in the following activities that may be divided into two groups. The first one includes actions that involve every resident and will be effective only if everyone takes part in it. Among them there are the following:
- Reduce, reuse, recycle
- Drive less and drive smart
- Use less hot water
The second group consists of the activities that can not be made without the government participation and help. Among them there are the following:
- Stop forest loss
- Accelerating of the low-emission technologies development
- Renewable energy
Action 1: Stop Forest Loss
The first and may be the easiest way to decrease greenhouse gases emission is to end forest loss. It will not help in declining of the ejections but, on the other hand, it will help with the absorption of the negative chemical compounds. According to the WWF, by 2050, more than 230 million hectares of the natural forests will disappear. There are many reasons of the forests’ cutting down; among them, there are the following: agriculture, manufacturers that produce wood and paper products and natural factors. But the major cause of deforestation is agriculture. The significant forest areas are cut down to receive new rooms for planting. Even small farmers are trying to clean as more space as possible by cutting and burning trees.
Deforestation has many negative impacts on the environment. It causes significant influence to the global climate and as the matter of fact to the species extinction. Trees play a very important role in greenhouse gases absorbing. The main reason of it is the photosynthesis process. It is the ability of plants to absorb the carbon dioxide out of the Earth’s atmosphere. It means that more forests we have, the fewer amount of the greenhouse gases will enter the Earth’s atmosphere. And as a result, it will cause the decreasing of the severity and speed of global warming.
The quickest solution to stop deforestation is simply to stop cutting down the trees. But financial realities and the recent year statistic showed that it will unlikely occur. The other way is to provide effective forest management and to achieve a balance in cutting down the trees and planting the new ones. The special programs have to be implemented by the government that will encourage the greenery planting. Manufacturers also have to use only the old trees that need replacement and try to recycle the products where it is possible. As for the personalities, everyone has to understand the importance of effective forest plantation productivity, otherwise, global warming effects will impact human health and livelihoods even more negatively. The amount of new tree plantations is increasing each year, but unfortunately, its rate is still considerably lower than the Earth’s forested land.
Action 2: Accelerating of the Low-Emission Technologies Development
The one more way to reduce greenhouse gases emission is to develop low-emission technologies (LET). It is important to understand that LET is not the same as the renewable energies. Low-emission technologies use the traditional fuels such as gas, oil, or coal. But due to the latest and advanced technologies, the airborne pollutants, greenhouse gases emission and the other environmental impacts are reduced significantly.
In the electricity and power generation sector, LET focus on the set of the newest engineering connected with the CO2 storage and capture. Also, the latest advanced power generating systems have to be provided to achieve the better effect. Among them, there are the following: post-combustion and oxy-fuel capture as well as integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC). Also, the next technologies may be considered as low-emission ones: coal cleaning and treatment, ultra-supercritical pulverized fuel, waste heat recovery, enhanced coal bed, poly-generation, waste coal mine methane, hydrogen production and coal gasification.
On the other hand, LET may be provided to reduce greenhouse gases emission from the vehicles. The considerable amount of cars and other transport that burns the different types of fuel and ejects the chemical compounds into the air causes the negative impact on the atmosphere. All the combustion engines, no matter if they use gasoline or diesel, expel harmful gases. LET may refer to the hybrid, electric, gas, propane, air power, and hydrogen vehicles. According to Global Greenhouse Warming, the state of California uses the following classification: a Low-Emission Vehicle (LEV, the obligatory standard for the all light vehicles that have been sold nationwide by 2001), Transitional Low-Emission Vehicle (TLEV), the vehicles that approximately 50% cleaner than the average new vehicle), Ultra-Low-Emission Vehicle (ULEV), Super Ultra-Low-Emission Vehicle (SULEV, the vehicles that approximately 90% cleaner than the average new vehicle), Partial Zero-Emission Vehicle (PZEV, the vehicle with zero evaporative emission during the idle period and cleaner than the average new vehicle at the same moment), Advanced Technology PZEV (AT PZEV, the hybrid or compressed natural-gas vehicles that meet PZEV standards), Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV, the hydrogen fuel cell or electric vehicles that perform zero harmful emissions).
It is important to be careful using the “Zero Emission” term. The main reason of it is that only the fewer part of all vehicles really fall into this category. The whole life cycle of the vehicle including total carbon dioxide emissions has to be calculated to consider the vehicle as a truly zero emitter. As for the latest hybrid-electric vehicles, ones that powered by one or more electric motors and a small combustion engine, all of them typically fall under the AT PZEV classification. Among such vehicles there are the following: Toyota Prius, 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid, and Ford Escape Hybrid.
Talking about the personality’s contribution to LET, the best way is to buy the low-emission products, for example, cars. They may cost more but the benefit will be considerable in the future.
Talking about the price of LET and government contribution to its development, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) calculated that using present technologies, burying of the carbon costs in the range of $100 to $300 per ton of carbon emissions. The DOE started the program of the costs reducing to the range of $10 or less per ton. It was only one of the targets of this program called the Future Gen initiative. This project will take ten years and will cost $1 billion. As the result of it, the first zero-emission, coal-based hydrogen, and electricity power plant in the world will be created.
Nowadays, LET is a quite new one and still in development. Therefore, it is hard to calculate its accurate price and benefits. But it is obvious that carbon emissions reduce is the thing that have to be done.
Action 3: Renewable Energy
The state of California has a long supporting renewable energy history. Such resources as wind, geothermal, solar, biomass, and small hydroelectric facilities produced approximately 11.6% of all electricity in 2009. According to Hochschild (n.d.), the other 9.2% were generated by the large hydro plants. The state of California always had the leading positions in the clean energy investments. By 2020, it has been expected that 33% of all energy needs would be achieved from the clean renewable sources such as solar, wind, biopower, and geothermal.
Talking about the personalities, during the 20th century, more thousands of houses in the South part of the state of California used the advantage of the “California sunshine” heating water using solar energy. It reduced the dependence on fossil fuels. During the oil crises in the 1970s, state and federal tax credits helped in establishing the new wind and solar industry. And wind turbine farms started to appear on the slopes of the state of California hills.
To increase the statewide renewable electricity production the California Energy Commission adopted the new Renewable Energy Program in 1998. It helped the state of California to become a recognized leader in this field after the following decade of this program implementation. It included public education regarding the renewable energy. Also, consumers were offered the discounts for the solar and wind systems installation. For the existing and new utility-scale facilities that use renewable energy resources the Energy Commission provided market-based incentives.
Among the achievements of the Emerging Renewable Program from 1998 to December 31, 2006, there were the following: construction of the wind systems that had up to 50 kW in size, solar/photovoltaic electricity systems that performed 30 kW, solar thermal electric and fuel cells that used renewable fuel. Also, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) established some larger self-generating projects for businesses. The Emerging Renewable Program has focused on encouraging installation and purchase of the fuel cells that use renewable fuel and small wind systems.
In 2007, the Senate Bill 1 for California replaced the Emerging Renewables Program. It included the two programs that supported the local solar projects. They were the California Public Utilities Commission’s California Solar Initiative and the Energy Commission’s New Solar Homes Partnership. Moreover, the publicity owned utilities were offered a variety of the different solar programs. This statewide effort was known as Go Solar California. The main goal of it was to achieve the solar generating capacity equal to 3,000 MW with the $3.35 billion budget.
The CPUC’s California Solar Initiative (CSI) provided the rebate program for the existing homes. It also offered the cash back for the solar systems that had a capacity less than one megawatt. Existing and new industrial, commercial, nonprofit, agricultural and government properties were included in this incentive program. The goal of the CSI is to achieve 1,940 MW of the installed solar capacity by 2016, and it has a $2 billion budget over ten years.
Talking about the New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP), it has a goal to install 400 MW of the capacity by 2016. NSHP has a $400 million budget and encourages installation of the solar systems that have the high level of the energy efficiency.
Nowadays, the state of California generates enough electricity from renewable sources that can power more than 5 million homes. And also, there is the expectation that this rate may nearly double by 2020. Since California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard was implemented in 2002 more than 200 new renewable projects have been made. Displacing the coal and natural gas electricity generation with domestic and safe electricity not only helped to reduce harmful global warming emissions and air pollution. It also made it possible to fix price and use the inexhaustible sources of the electricity.
Action 4: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
There is a law in the state of California to recycle. It was adopted in 1989 and set the diversion goals of 25% by 1995 and 50% by 2000. All the counties and cities had to achieve the diversion rate equal to 50% by 2006 or they would face $10,000 penalty per day.
Reducing of the wastes, reusing and recycling products is a concern that needs everyone to take a part in it. If every citizen plays his role, the diversion rate will increase, and everyone will achieve its benefits. Among them there are the following: save money on purchased goods, guard the nature for children and grandchildren and conserve space in the landfills. To reduce the wastes it is enough to buy products with the minimal packaging and recycling the half of all the household wastes may annually save approximately 2.400 pounds of carbon dioxide.
Among the tips that may help in recycling and diverting the household wastes there are the following:
- donate used magazines, books, toys, clothing, furniture and appliances to nonprofits that may give them the second life or to charities;
- use curbside recycling;
- if there is no any recycling program at your workplace bring the recyclables home for collecting or offer to start one of the recycling programs;
- try to reuse everything possible to decrease the amount of wastes taken to the landfills;
- use refills or try to buy products in bulk;
It is obvious that if everyone do his part in reusing, reducing and recycling the amount of the wastes that our community generates would decrease significantly.
Action 5: Drive Less and Drive Smart
It is obvious that the less driving means fewer emissions will be made. Someone think that the impact on our environment caused by a single car is not considerable. And it is true, but if we calculate the total amount of vehicles and the quantities of gases ejected we will receive a terrifying value. Some tips that may help to reduce the negative impact on our environment caused by driving exist. According to EPA, among them there are the following.
It means that it is necessary to buy low-greenhouse gas and fuel-efficient vehicles. No matter if you are going to buy a new car or used one. Nowadays there are the great variety of vehicles that meet all the green requirements. Also, it is easier than ever to find the fuel-efficient and clear car.
Going easy on gas and brakes pedal, reducing the idling time and avoiding the hard accelerations may help to decrease greenhouse gas emission and to improve the fuel economy. Also, among the tips that may help you to drive smart, there are the following: using the cruise control, removing the roof rack if it is unused, reducing the weight by removing unnecessary items, using the two-wheel drive mode for vehicles with the four-wheel selectable drive when the road conditions make it possible.
Every car has the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule and it is necessary to follow it. Also, using the recommended grade of the motor oil may help in reducing the fuel wastes. The main idea is that the well-maintained car is more reliable, produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions and is more fuel-efficient than the non-maintained one. The one more important thing is to remember about the tires. The abnormal tire’s pressure increases its wear, causes greenhouse gases and other air pollutants emission and reduces the fuel economy.
Use Renewable Fuels
Using of the renewable fuels such as E85 and biodiesel may considerably reduce greenhouse gases emissions from your vehicle. E85 is a fuel blend that consists of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. It was developed for the certain vehicles called Flex Fuel Vehicles (FFVs). These may be fueled with the traditional gasoline and with the E85. Talking about the biodiesel, if you are owner of a diesel vehicle you may consider filling it up with the biodiesel such as B5 for example. It is a fuel blend that contains 5% biodiesel.
Give Your Car a Break
The last and maybe the most important step is to reduce using of your private vehicle. All the tips that were described above may only decrease greenhouse gases emission a little, but to prevent it everyone have to spend some days without using the cars. It has a lot of different benefits. First of all walking or biking is useful for the human health. Also avoiding the using of the personal vehicle may save you some money, because you do not need to fuel your car and spend money to buy fuel, no matter if it is traditional or renewable one. And the most important benefit is that if you leave your car just for two days a week it can reduce the greenhouse gas emissions by an average rate that is equal to two tons per year.
If you do not have a possibility to avoid using a car, combining all activities into the one trip, also may reduce the negative impact on the environment.
Action 6: Use Less Hot Water
The direct connection between the using of hot water and greenhouse gases emission exists. Using water requires the energy and the producing of the energy closely combined with the harmful emissions. So, it is obvious that decreasing of the hot water usage may considerably decline greenhouse effect. For example, 6.5% of energy in the state of California is used for pumping and heating water.
It was calculated that for example, the using of the low-flow showerheads may save the hot water and up to 350 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. Also, reducing the usage of the hot water during washing your clothing may save approximately 500 pounds of carbon dioxide every year in the most part of the households.
There is the variety of the different ways to conserve water effectively. According to Mono Lake Committee, among them there are the following:
- Do not waste cold water while waiting for the hot one reach the shower head (saves from 200 to 300 gallons monthly);
- Check toilet for leaks (saves 400 gallons a month);
- Turning off the water during the shaving (saves three gallons every day);
- Turning off the water during the teeth brushing (saves three gallons every day);
- Keeping a bottle of a drinking water in the refrigerator may prevent you from the wasteful habit, waiting the water running until it becomes cooler (saves from 200 to 300 gallons a month);
- Keeping a pool covered, if you have it, will cut down the evaporation (saves 1,000 gallons a month);
- Avoiding the frozen food defrost with the running water (saves from 50 to 150 gallons a month);
Water is the essential ingredient for the humankind and the most part of the manufacturing operations. That is why cutting down the purchases of the different material things, no matter if they are appliances or paper, shoes or clothes, protects and conserves the water supplies as effectively as the installing of the low-flush toilet does. So, saving water and reducing the usage of the hot one is a collective concern and everyone has to take part in it.
It is obvious that global warming is the one of the most dangerous threat that humankind faced in the 21th century. The greenhouse effect or greenhouse gases emission is the one of the Global warming’s causes and fortunately, human can influence on it decreasing its value.
According to the “Global Warming Solution Act” or AB32, the state of California has to decline its greenhouse gas emissions. To achieve this goal a lot of different activities exists. Some of them are easier and some of them are harder, some of them cannot be made without the government maintenance and help and some of them need the collective efforts of all citizens but all of them have to be made. Among the actions that may be used by the state of California to decrease the greenhouse gas emissions there are the following:
- Reduce, reuse, recycle
- Drive less and drive smart
- Use less hot water
- Stop forest loss
- Accelerating of the low-emission technologies development
- Renewable energy.