Hope For Reversing Climate Change

 By Dale Mayo, June 5, 2024

What it is

Climate change is one of the leading issues facing humans today. The earth’s average temperature is rising due to the greenhouse effect, a buildup of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere which has warmed the atmosphere. Over the past 30 years, global emissions of carbon dioxide have increased by almost 50%. The box below shows the effects of climate change.

Basics of climate change

  • Extreme weather events are more frequent and intense
  • Precipitation and temperature patterns are changing.
  • Growing seasons and migrations are changing.
  • The oceans are warmer; sea levels and acidity are rising.
  • Glaciers and sea ice are melting.

This is not the first time that there have been changes in the earth’s climate. Volcanoes, changes in the earth’s orbit, and changes in the sun’s energy have altered the climate of the planet. In the past, periods of heating and cooling took place over hundreds or thousands of years (e.g., ice ages). We know that climate change in the more recent past has spurred the rise and falls of civilizations. This time, scientists agree that humans are the cause – that this period of warming is caused by the burning fossil fuels, deforestation, and large-scale agriculture.


What is being done

In April, the United States declared a national goal for a national zero-emissions freight system in April, along with nearly $1.5 billion in new funding. The purpose is to transition warehouses, trucks, ports, ships, trains, and planes to zero-emission technologies. Freight transportation, a significant source of pollution, is of vital importance to the US economy, as is the transportation sector. The funding programs aim to help transition school buses, delivery and garbage trucks to zero-emission technologies; to reduce port emissions; and to provide reliable, affordable charging depots and truck stops.

Shipping moves more than 80% of the world’s goods and produces 3% of greenhouse gas emissions – it is relatively inexpensive, and emits fewer greenhouse gases per unit than any other form of transport. The International Maritime Organization has set a zero emissions target of ‘around’ 2050 and at least 10 major shipping companies have committed to reduce their carbon emissions to zero by or before 2050. The European Union has also put requirements on pollution cuts from shipping fuels and even some large shipping customers have committed to using zero-emissions cargo ships by 2040.

Several wind technologies are being revived and revitalized to help increase efficiency and reduce emissions. Wind is especially useful for larger sea-going vessels and a return to sailing and other wind technologies is helping reduce both shipping costs and emissions. A good example of “what’s old is new again” is the use of Flettner rotors. In the 1920s, a ship with its masts replaced by tall revolving cylinders made a transatlantic crossing. The cylinders (Flettner rotors, named for their inventor, Anton Flettner) worked like sails but were more efficient and cut fuel use. Today, a Finnish company, Norsepower, is producing modern-day Flettner rotors fitted for transatlantic cargo ships. While the initial cost is over a million dollars, that could be made up in fuel savings in the next three to ten years.

Climate change is negatively affecting the hospitality sector, as extreme weather raises operating costs and reduces the number of tourists at certain destinations. The hotel sector accounts for around 1% of global carbon emissions. The World Sustainable Hospitality Alliance assisting the industry reduce carbon emissions, promote sustainable building design, encouraging renewable energy usage, and encouraging biodiversity protection and regeneration. Their goal is to assist the hotel industry to reduce its carbon emissions by 66% per room by 2030 and by 90% by 2050.

Transportation is the largest source of climate pollution in the U.S., but it is changing rapidly - cars, transit buses, trucks (all sizes, even big-rig tractor trailers) are either partially or fully powered by electricity or hydrogen fuel cells. Regardless of where your electricity comes from, electric vehicles have a smaller carbon footprint than gasoline-powered cars.

The airline industry is not as easy to transform – it will be 2040 before hydrogen propelled and battery-powered aircraft will be ready. Aircraft with 100 seats or more produce 96% of aviation’s emissions. Another possibility is using low-carbon sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and conventional kerosene-powered jet engines but the investment to produce SAF may be too high.

The buildings and construction sector accounts for 37% of global emissions of greenhouse gases. The production and use of materials such as cement, steel, and aluminum have a significant carbon footprint. Emissions from heating, cooling, and lighting are decreasing, but finding solutions for the high-carbon footprint materials is challenging. Strategies to decarbonize building materials include avoiding unnecessary extraction and production; shifting to recyclable materials; and improving decarbonization of conventional materials.

On a more local level, architects and urban planners can focus on ways to rebuild natural systems to help communities reduce their climate risks. For example, SCAPE, a private design practice in New York City founded by Kate Orff, worked with Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority to help integrate many local projects into a larger scale resilience plan. Louisiana has lost about 2,000 square miles of land due to human causes like sea level rise. SCAPE has been helping to develop “a master plan for coastal restoration and risk reduction that combines marsh creation with bottomland reforestation, sediment diversions, and related landscape restoration.” In addition, Orff uses living landscapes as infrastructure – using oyster reefs to clean the water and buffer a shoreline; using forests to clean water and air.


What you can do

One way to help on an individual level is to eat sustainably grown food. Organic agriculture reduces non-renewable energy use by decreasing agrochemical needs. It also helps reduce the greenhouse effect because it sequesters carbon in the soil. Because livestock food production is a high carbon activity, reducing your consumption of meat and dairy can help – for example, plan for Meatless Mondays.

You can consult the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Guide to help you make responsible seafood choices. Some questions to ask: Where is this seafood from? Is the seafood farmed or wild? How was it caught? Sizzlefish provides the answers to these questions when you select a specific type of seafood on the website. For example, if you select Wild Alaska Sockeye Salmon you find informative logos - including our guarantee that it comes from sustainable fisheries - and sourcing information.

Eating high-quality seafood is not only good our customers, but also for the earth, with natural, sustainably sourced seafood. You can trust us to supply you with pure natural fish portions, with tools and tips for quick easy preparation, and with honest information about the benefits you get from Sizzlefish products.


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