Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Earth Day 2010

I've decided to stop using "global warming," instead I'll follow Thomas L. Friedman's advice and use the term "global weirding." Last month, Puerto Rico registered both a record low and high in temperatures. According to the National Weather Service, the average temperature this past March was 80.7º F. This is more characteristic for temperatures in May. On the other hand, we also had a few days of relatively cooler temperatures, in the low 60ºsF in the San Juan area, brought on by a cold front. This extreme weather phenomenon is nothing out of the extraordinary. In many parts of the world, especially in some parts of the U.S and Europe, this past winter was extremely rough. Many experienced record snowfalls and low temperatures. This is no reason to doubt the existence of global warming though. As stated in a fairly recent article published in the Economist, the fact in which there is a lack of agreement amongst environmental scientists should not be cause for inaction.

Puerto Rico is slowly becoming more conscientious of climate change and trying to adopt renewable energy resources. The local paper published an article (in Spanish), "En pañales la conciencia verde en Puerto Rico" (which literally translates to: "In Diapers Green Conscience in Puerto Rico") with some worrying statistics. Electricity on the island, which has seven power generating plants, is still primarily produced by the burning of fossil fuels. Currently, the recycling rate is less than 10%. In the U.S, it's over 30% and in some parts of Europe, it's at around 60%. To my astonishment, Puerto Rico has no existing recycling plant for solid waste. On average, people on the island generate nearly five pounds of garbage on a daily basis, this makes Puerto Rico the world's leader in generating the most garbage, in terms of population density and square mileage. Needless to say, the island faces a very long list of challenges and must act quicker.

Earth Day will be celebrated just two days from today, on April 22nd. One of the most important things which we can all do, as citizens of this world, is to do our part in taking care of Mother Earth. For example, recycling and using less plastic bags is one way to reduce waste and lessen carbon emissions. I often bring a canvas bag with me to carry my groceries, something which I would love to see everyone here on the island do. Hanging your clothes, weather permitting, is also a fantastic way to lessen your electricity bill. If we can all contribute in the usage of less energy and water, we'll be making small but crucial steps in helping alleviate the environmental damage we've caused.

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