Local Efforts Help Battle Global Climate Problem

Local Efforts Help Battle Global Climate Problem

7:26pm Dec 18, 2014
Justin Catanoso reported from Lima, Peru, on United Nations climate change negotiations the week of Dec. 7, 2014.
Photo by Michael Frierson

In his column this week in the Triad Business Journal, Justin Catanoso offers some surprising insights about how cities can make a global impact when it comes to climate change. Catanoso recently returned from Lima, Peru, to cover the United Nations World Climate Summit.

According to scientists, the CO2 in the atmosphere is now around 400 parts per million, due to 150 years of burning fossil fuels for energy. As a result, the earth’s temperature has increased almost 1 degree Fahrenheit since 1900.Catanoso says that may not seem like a lot, but this rising temperature is causing a great deal of concern.

“Sea levels are rising along our coasts and swallowing low‐lying island nations. Coral reefs are dying because of ocean acidification, and extreme weather like massive hurricanes and droughts are all becoming more commonplace. And that’s just with a 1 degree increase. Scientists predict that global temperature will rise another 2 or 3 degrees Fahrenheit in the just next 50 to 75 years. That would be really bad,” says Catanoso.Several strategies were discussed at the summit to reduce the amount of carbon emissions from each nation. For example, there was a lot of talk in Lima about protecting tropical forests, and replanting millions of acres of trees to grow back forests where they have been cut down across Africa, South America and southern Asia.

But Catanoso says maybe mayors, more than heads of state, can successfully battle global warming.

“This was probably the most surprising thing I learned in Lima. I was talking with a climate scientist from NASA and he told me that the world’s 50 largest cities account for about 70 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. If you think about cities like Beijing, Mumbai, Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro or Los Angeles – big, smoggy places with a lot of traffic and a huge demand for energy – it makes sense,” says Catanoso.He says even smaller cities in North Carolina are looking at ways to reduce their carbon footprints and improve their communities.

“Charlotte just launched an effort to plant 500,000 new trees over the next 35 years and that has huge implications for reducing runoff and improving water and air quality, and Greensboro is joining this nationwide push to promote commuter biking by building a Greenway around its downtown,  all of these things will decrease carbon emissions.”The Business Report on 88.5 WFDD is a partnership with the Triad Business Journal. You'll find Catanoso's story and more breaking business news at Triad.Bizjournals.com.

Justin Catanoso is director of the Journalism program at Wake Forest University and a regular contributor to 88.5 WFDD.

Note: Catanoso's work in Peru was supported by a grant from the Wake Forest Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability. His coverage is collected at www.justincatanoso.com.



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