Environmental news is rarely good these days and recent data from the U.S. government is no exception.
This past decade was the hottest ever recorded for Earth due to an acceleration of temperature increases in the last five years, according to findings from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 2019 was the second-hottest year ever, just behind 2016. Each of the last five years are among the five hottest since records began. Nineteen of the 20 hottest are within the previous two decades.
"No individual hot year - or hot day or hot season, for that matter - is by itself evidence for climate change. But this hot year is just one of many hot years in this decade," according to Kate Marvel, a research scientist at NASA and Columbia University. "The planet is statistically, detectably warmer than before the Industrial Revolution. We know why. We know what it means. And we can do something about it."
Leaders have responded to such news by vowing to limit Earth's warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celcius above preindustrial levels. Going over this amount would lead to a tipping point resulting in destructive rises in sea levels, extreme weather events, and general catastrophes associated with climate change. Averting this disaster requires immediate, radical shifting away from the use of fossil fuel resources.
The changes aren't located in one geographic location nor do they have to do with air temperature. Heat changes are being felt through environmental systems around the world.
"The evidence isn't just in surface temperature," Benjamin Santer, a researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, said of the human-fueled warming trend. "It's Arctic sea ice. It's atmospheric water vapor increases. It's changes in glaciers in Alaska. It's changes in the Greenland Ice Sheet. It's all of the above."
The climate disasters have manifested in multiple forms. During a horrific December in Australia, record-high temperatures triggered bush fires due to heat and drought. Alaska additionally had its hottest year on record in 2019. There was a shocking lack of ice cover during the winter in the Bering and Chukchi Seas. Hurrians in the Carribean such as Dorian struck the Bahamas.
In a pessimistic UN report issued last fall, it warned that the world had wasted so much time mustering the willpower to fight climate change that drastic, unprecedented cuts in emissions are now the only way to avoid an ever-intensifying number of consequences. The U.N. said global temperatures could rise as much as 3.2 degrees Celsius (5.8 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century. To prevent this, emissions must begin falling by 7.6% each year, beginning 2020 to meet the most ambitious Paris Climate Accord goals.
What can individuals do to decrease their own carbon output? While industries are the main culprit here, as we can see above, every bit helps, even if the amount makes a marginal difference on a global scale.
At GoSun, we believe in the aggregation of marginal gains. We build and sell solar cookers so they can, in sum total, make an impact difference by providing grid-free cooking technology to much of the world, cut down on carbon output, and reduce injuries such as smoke inhalation damage that come from using charcoal—one of the most common cooking fuels in the developing world.
The majority of the world's population relying on solid fuels lives in areas lacking the public health infrastructure to deal with the massive amount of damage caused to their health. This includes Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and some countries in Central America and in East Asia and the Pacific. The death toll is staggering.
Today around 3 billion people cook with dirty fuel sources; such as wood, dung or charcoal. As a result, smoke inhalation related illness ranks with malaria and AIDs as one of the great greatest problems facing the world. In addition, fuel wood scarcity drives families around the world to spend many hours collecting and transporting heavy loads of fuel wood, often to the detriment of already endangered ecosystems. If fire wood is purchased it often makes a sizable portion of the family's income.
Through our experiences, we've learned that taking solar cooking international can save lives, protect the environment, and empower communities on a global level.
After an opportunity from the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves to extensively test its technology in the highlands of Guatemala, GoSun is on the verge of starting a social enterprise for developing markets with the potential to change lives, communities and ecosystems.
The GoSun solar cooking technology leapfrogs solid fuels completely, providing a safe, fast and affordable alternative to the status quo. A compliment to all existing cooking technology, the GoSun For All (currently under development) has the potential to save a profound amount of time and money for families around the world.
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