The Lake Wylie Chamber of Commerce will launch its green initiative this week during Thursday’s St. Patrick’s Day-themed networking event from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Clover Community Bank-Lake Wylie. The reason: To promote sustainable business practices and environmentally friendly measures to make the Lake Wylie area and economy greener. In support of this initiative, Lake Wylie Pilot and C2C Development are joining in by bringing Pilot readers three columns about why it’s time to go green. The chamber also will be offering news and tips online, and will award a distinguished business making a positive impact on our environment and community with the Green Award.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first of three articles to be written by Jeff DeSart, founder and CEO of C2C Development in Lake Wylie, explaining why we are in a "green revolution," how to get involved and how it will benefit you.
Since March already has people "thinking green," it's also a great time to consider why we should "go green."
Worldwide there's a going green movement under way from green houses, green businesses, green cleaning products, green cars to green investment funds. While reasons include awareness to the destruction of habitats from pollution, health concerns from bad air quality and harmful chemical exposure and our energy crisis, the real driving force behind it all is the threat to climate change because of global warming.
It's getting hot in here
Heat-trapping gases, or greenhouse gases, insulate the earth to keep it warm enough to support life. As more GHGs are added to the atmosphere, the planet gets warmer. The fossil fuels we burn to provide power for our homes, cars and businesses release carbon dioxide -- the most prevalent gas in GHGs -- while the forests we cut down for lumber, farming and real estate development absorb carbon dioxide. So, we are continually increasing carbon emissions -- GHGs -- yet simultaneously decreasing our sources of carbon reduction.
The process of creating CO2 faucets (supply sources) while reducing CO2 sinks (depletion sources) can be best illustrated by the tar sand operations in Canada. Tar sands are mined, like coal, from the boreal forest at the southern end of the world's largest ecosystem, the Taiga. The forest must be cut down to mine the tar sands. The tar sands then go through a refining process, emitting more CO2 into the atmosphere.
The current atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide is 27 percent higher than any time in the past 650,000 years. As a result, in the past 13 years, we have experienced 11 of the hottest years since 1850. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007 predicted a sea level rise of 7 to 23 inches by 2100, which would mean transplanting millions of people from coastal cities. Last month, a report by a collaboration of scientists from 60 countries based on two years of research went a step further stating glaciers are melting faster than the IPCC's report indicated. The new report predicts sea levels will rise 3 to 5 feet by the end of the century. What it means: It's hard to accurately predict just how fast the rate of melting is increasing.
Other hot issues
But global warming isn't the only threat to the existence we are accustomed to and the well-being of the planet. Pollution threatens to destroy our habitats: coral reefs are dying because of pollutants that feed into our streams, rivers and on to the ocean. Our oceans are full of trash and pollutants, including the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (an island of floating trash estimated to weigh 3.5 million tons in 2007). There also are human health concerns, such as concerns about how our food is produced with contamination from pesticides and fertilizers.
Another issue, air pollution, is at the root of many diseases and conditions. In fact, right here in the Carolinas, the Environmental Protection Agency found eight counties in the Charlotte area in 2004 were in violation of the federal ozone standards.
Economic modeling forecasts say it will take 1 percent of global gross domestic product per year until 2050 to prevent climate change, while it will take 5 percent of global GDP per year until 2050 to pay for climate adaptation because of global warming. The circumstances of Hurricane Katrina make a good analogy, if a relatively small investment were made in the levee system before the hurricane hit, it could have saved hundreds of millions of dollars for rebuilding, and most importantly, many lives.
According to Scientific American reports, by 2050, oil production will be back down to 1950-production levels, a decrease of 80 percent. However, at the same time, energy consumption is expected to increase by 70 percent, leaving us with a huge energy deficit. What it means: There will be peaks and valleys, but overall, the price of oil is expected to grow exponentially as we move forward and supplies diminish.
That's why we need to be proactive, not reactive. According the IPCC, the earth has about six more years at the current rate of carbon dioxide pollution before it is locked into a future of severe global warming.
The catalyst for our going green movement gained momentum in 1992 when an international environmental treaty, Kyoto Protocol, was crafted at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development to achieve stabilization of GHG concentrations to prevent global warming. The treaty maps out provisions for carbon emissions, and will expire in 2012. As of 2008, all developed countries, except one, ratified it. Care to guess which one? The U.S.
In December, the world will gather in Copenhagen to once again address the issue of carbon emissions and global warming. The Copenhagen Agreement's goal, as proposed by the European Union, is to reduce emissions of developed countries by 25 to 40 percent by 2020.
In the U.S., the Obama administration has proposed the following emissions/energy efficiency goals: All federal buildings to be carbon neutral by 2025 and all buildings by 2030; and all new federal buildings are to be 40 percent more efficient in five years and all buildings 25 percent during the same period.
The new administration also has begun to implement these goals in the recently passed stimulus package through climate change initiatives such as the modernization of federal and state buildings to green standards, increasing the production of renewable energy and funding of renewable energy research.
Corporate America's commitment to the green movement is equally profound. Yahoo and Rupert Murdoch's NewsCorp have both pledged to become carbon neutral companies. Citigroup committed $50 billion over 10 years in project financing to reduce global carbon emissions, while Bank of America has pledged $20 billion during the same time span to support the growth of environmentally sustainable business activity.
Our entire way of life and the majestic habitats and species of our planet are at stake. Even with all these groups and forces working together, it will take a commitment from us all to reduce pollution, use energy more efficiently, develop and support sources for renewable energy, and reduce carbon emissions. Simply put, it's time to go green.
Jeff DeSart is founder and CEO of C2C Development in Lake Wylie. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to know more?
Here is a list of Web sites to find out more about global warming and what's being done:
• ipcc.ch - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
• wecansolveit.org - We can solve the climate crisis
roadtocopenhagen.org - A guide to the post 2012 climate agreement
• nrdc.org - Natural Resources Defense Council
• clean-air-coalition.org - A nonprofit organization working to restore clean air to the Carolinas.
• repoweramerica.org - A site supporting 100 percent clean energy