How are greenhouse gases related to me, and how can I help?

By Natalie Tham

The year is 2020. Eco-anxiety is a thing now, Antarctica continues to melt rapidly, and scientists have warned, as recently as last year, that we are facing a climate emergency.

When everything we're reading about the environment these days seem to point toward an inevitable climate doom, it is easy to lose hope and just let the environment… be. But, have we really come to the end of the road?

I would be lying if I claimed that the dire state of our climate could be entirely reversed. But one thing I know for sure is that it can get better. For us to resolve the issues of our climate, though, we need to first understand the causes behind climate change, and what we can do to prevent it.

Greenhouse gases (GHGs) are produced through activities that release carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and ozone chlorofluorocarbons. Greenhouse gases block the Earth's heat from being released into space, thus trapping heat in the Earth's atmosphere. This results in global warming.

As you may know, one of the main sources of greenhouse gases due to human activity is the burning of fossil fuels. According to the website British Geological Survey, carbon dioxide levels are substantially higher now than at any time in the last 750,000 years. Needless to say, we can attribute this fact to developments in our modern world - The advent of industrialization, globalisation and technology have all driven the excessive burning of fossil fuels. Airplanes emit a whopping 90kg of carbon dioxide per hour - a hefty carbon footprint tag considering there are hundreds of airplanes flying in and out of every country, every day. Even doing something as simple as streaming a Netflix show for half an hour leads to emissions of 1.6kg of carbon dioxide.

But we can't forgo air travel and Netflix forever, can we? How then do we reduce our emissions in a world that makes it almost impossible for us to do so?

Currently, Sunseap is working on its first ever sustainability impact report in a bid to be more transparent about its carbon emissions, so as to move forward in operating the business in a more sustainable manner. One of the components of the impact report is emissions from air travel. As Sunseap is aware that flying leaves a carbon footprint, it is encouraging its staff to turn to teleconferencing as an environmentally friendly alternative.

One easy way to reduce the emissions we generate from watching Netflix, among other things, is to tap on solar energy to power our homes and our companies. When we turn to solar energy, we help reduce the demand for conventional energy, and thus lesser fossil fuels have to be burnt to generate the energy we need.

Tapping on solar energy is a good way to start fighting climate change. However, not everyone is aware of solar energy, or has the means to utilize it. Besides solar energy, we could start building small, eco-friendly habits in our lives, and encourage the people around us to build similar habits. Some habits include:

• Taking public transport instead of driving
• Bringing your own reusable bag to the supermarket
• Purchasing only what you need when you shop
• Turning off the lights when you leave the room
• Paying your bills online
• Switching to energy-saving appliances

Let us all make a conscious effort to implement these habits in our daily lives. Collectively, we can make a difference.