The Homewood Science Center celebrated Earth Day on April 22 with a virtual event, where attendees discussed simple ways to address climate change.
At the virtual event, Dorelle Ackerman, a member of the Pachamama Chicagoland Co-Hearts, an organization that aims to bring forth an environmentally sustainable planet, said climate change is an “existential threat to life on our planet.”
Though the Earth’s climate is always changing, scientists say that humans contribute to the changes by using significant amounts of energy and water, according to NASA.gov. One way humans get energy is by burning coal, oil and gas, which puts gases into the air and can in turn cause the air to heat up.
Some scientists speculate that Earth's temperature will keep going up for the next 100 years, which could lead to more intense hurricanes, a rise in sea level, increased droughts and melting glaciers. It could also lead to some places getting hotter while others could experience colder winters with more snow.
To address the threat, Ackerman and other members from the organization called on attendees to make a commitment to environmental sustainability, noting there are actions individuals can take to stop the climate from changing at such a high rate.
One of these actions include using LED lights, which uses 90% less energy than conventional incandescent bulbs, can help reduce air conditioning cost and last 27 years if used five hours per day. They can help save $6 dollars annually and $40 over the life of the bulb.
Another action individuals can take is turning to more environmentally friendly ways of commuting and traveling. This includes using electronic bikes, which are the most environmentally sound means of motorized transportation in the world, according to the advocate’s presentation.
Individuals can turn to ride share programs like Uber and Lyft, carpooling with others, and using public transportation. These efforts can help reduce emissions, can be less expensive and ease traffic.
Sharon White outlined other solutions, like insulating one's home. According to the presentation, heat loss and cooling loss is 25-60% wasted energy. She also pointed to composting, which is the process of recycling organic material. Making compost keeps these materials out of landfills where they take up space and release methane, a potent greenhouse gas, according to the EPA.
White, who does composting, said half of the solid waste that goes into a compost bin can be decomposed in weeks or months. White said she puts leaves, grass, food waste like potato peels, banana peels and apple cores in her bin.
“That can be used for your garden, for your lawn and for your flower pots,” she added.
In addition to these actions, Individuals can bring environmental concerns to local government officials to lobby for more sustainable solutions. Member Janet Musil noted that while there are many actions individuals can do, there must also be a comprehensive approach to turn the tide of climate change.
“Companies are going to need to focus on long term sustainability rather than just the short term profits, governments must restructure laws, regulations and subsidies to the fossil fuel industry and start requiring them to undo some of the damage they’ve caused,” Musil explained.