Individuals Fighting Global Warming


Ryan Geertsma and Robin Basselin look at carbon offsetting, and other ways that individuals can fight global warming.

Transcript


Voice 1

Welcome to Spotlight. I'm Ryan Geertsma.

Voice 2

And I'm Robin Basselin. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1

Have you ever thought about how your life affects global warming? Or about how you can fight the effects of global warming?

Voice 2

Global warming, or climate change, has been linked to the release of gases, like carbon dioxide, into the air. And, human actions release an increasing amount of these gases - actions like driving cars, running factories, heating homes and even cooking.

Voice 1

Today, more and more people are starting to think about ways they can reduce their emissions. Some people and companies choose to "offset" or balance their emissions. Other people try to reduce their emissions directly. Today's Spotlight program will look at the issue of reducing emissions and explore different ways people can do it.

Voice 2

You may remember a recent Spotlight program about carbon offsetting. This program explained one way that some countries have agreed to reduce their harmful emissions. These countries have set emission limits on companies. And the companies can choose to reduce their emissions directly or to offset their emissions.

Voice 1

Companies can offset their emissions by trading unused emissions called "carbon credits." They can also offset their emissions by investing in emissions reducing projects - like clean energy or environmental protection projects.

Voice 2

Companies have been offsetting their emissions for many years. However, today, some individuals are also beginning to choose offsetting as a way to reduce their own emissions.

Voice 1

Carbon offsetting companies have formed to help people offset their emissions. Many of these companies have websites with tools that estimate a person's emissions. These websites ask a person questions about their life - questions about the size of their home, the number of people living in their home, how much they drive a car, and how often they travel by air plane. This information is used to estimate the amount of emissions a person or family produces. These websites then calculate how much money a person or family can pay to "offset" their emissions.

Voice 2

I used one of these websites to estimate my own family's emissions. The website said that for two hundred and thirty six [236] dollars  I could offset my family's emissions for one year. At first I thought it may be worth investing a large amount of money if it could help the environment and fight global warming. I knew that the money could help important research on clean energy, or that it could help save trees that naturally take in and store harmful emissions. But I also wondered if just paying money was really the best answer. I knew that giving money would not change the fact that my family still produced harmful emissions.

Voice 1

Robin is not alone in her thoughts about carbon offsetting. Many environmentalists believe that carbon offsetting will never work. They believe that people mean to do good when they pay to offset their emissions. However, environmentalists also believe that when people offset their emissions, it will keep them from changing the way they live. And environmentalists argue that the only way to really fight global warming, is to change the way we all live. This includes changing big companies, changing government policies, and also changing our individual lives.

Voice 2

An environmental group called Carbon Trade Watch explains,

Voice 3

"There is an urgent need to return to political organizing for a wider, social change to a low carbon economy, while at the same time taking direct responsibility for reducing our individual emissions."

Voice 1

So, instead of individuals just offsetting their emission, Carbon Trade Watch encourages people to take both individual and social responsibility. The basic way people can release fewer emissions is by using less fossil fuels.

Voice 2

One amazing example of individuals taking social responsibility is found among the Ogoni women of Nigeria. Nigeria is a major producer of fossil fuels. This industry has brought much money to the country.

Voice 1

However, it has also caused environmental problems. When people produce oil, they also produce a by-product called natural gas. In many countries, this natural gas is used to produce energy. But in Nigeria, most of the natural gas is just burned off. This burning of gases is called flaring. And flaring produces many emissions which are harmful to the environment and people's health.

Voice 2

Nigeria flares more natural gas than any other country in the world. Flaring in Nigeria has released more harmful emissions than the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa together. And this flaring does more than just cause environmental damage. It also wastes natural gas that Nigerians could be using and selling.

Voice 1

In 1995, women from the Ogoni villages in Nigeria decided to make a change. They joined together and demanded that Shell, the large oil company in their area, stop flaring. For over ten years, these women fought against the company and the government of Nigeria. The women were often ignored, mis-treated and even physically harmed. However, they continued to gather support from people and governments all over the world.

Voice 2

In January of 2006, the Ogoni women finally won their battle. Nigerian courts ordered the oil company to stop flaring. And over the past three years, Shell has been decreasing their flaring.

Voice 1

These Nigerian women sacrificed much over many years. And because of their sacrifice, the largest producer of harmful emissions in Sub-Saharan Africa has been stopped.

Voice 2

The story of the Ogoni women is amazing. Together they reduced a huge amount of emissions. However, it is just as important that individual people reduce their own small amounts of emissions. In fact, many environmentalists believe that individuals are the most important part of changing the way our societies use energy.

Voice 1

There are many different ways that individuals can reduce their emissions. People can choose to drive less. They can limit their use of electricity. In some parts of the world, people can use wind turbines or solar panels to produce clean energy for their homes.

Voice 2

Another way for individuals to reduce their emissions is to change the way they eat. There is much energy used in the raising of animals for meat. Many other kinds of foods are transported long distances across the world. By eating less meat and eating more locally grown food, people can reduce emissions greatly.

Voice 1

These examples are just a few of the many ways a person can reduce their emissions. And these small changes can cause major results. When one person changes the way they live, other people notice. One person's changes can affect the way people in their family and community live. And through this process, the way our communities and societies use energy will change.

Voice 2

The environmental group Carbon Trade Watch explains,

Voice 3

"Our success in dealing with climate change will depend on how quickly and completely we can change the way we live our lives, both together and individually."

Voice 1

The writer of this program was Robin Basselin. The producer was Ryan Geertsma. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted and voiced by Spotlight. Computer users can visit our website at http://www.Radio.English.net. This program is called "Individuals Fighting Global Warming."

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