At the recent G7 Summit held in England, British environmentalist Sir David Attenborough, 95, called on government leaders to urgently address climate change.
Via video conference, the veteran broadcaster said: "Our scientific collaboration on Covid-19 treatment and vaccines showed just how much we can achieve together when the goal is clear and urgent. We know in detail what is happening to our planet, and we know many things we need to do in this decade.
"Tackling climate change is now as much a political and communications challenge as it is a scientific and technological one."
Attenborough's concerns are genuine.
The nonagenarian – who was recently featured in Netflix's 2020 documentary A Life on Our Planet – understands the importance of protecting our planet because he has witnessed much environmental decline in his 70 years as a naturalist.
Reducing our carbon footprints is one of the ways we can help to protect the environment, says Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia's Solar Energy Research Institute (Seri) research fellow Dr Suhaila Sepeai, 38.
She said installing solar panels on residential houses is one effort towards living a more sustainable lifestyle. Besides having a low environmental impact, residential solar panels can reflect the radiation received on the roof, thereby helping to cool the house down, said Dr Suhaila.
The senior lecturer added that the cost of installing a solar panel (for a residential home) ranges between RM15, 000 and RM20, 000, depending on the panel size and type.
"Solar energy can be harnessed on a larger scale using a solar farm or rooftop home solar system. By installing solar panel systems in our home, we can conserve energy and do our part in lessening our carbon footprint.
"It can significantly lower carbon emission by reducing dependence on the electricity providers too," said the scientist, who holds a PhD in renewable energy from UKM.
She added that children should also be taught about environmental conservation from young. By establishing the right environmental values, kids can make positive changes for their future.
"Start by adopting the 5Rs (Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose and Recycle). Teach them to turn off the tap while brushing their teeth or turn off the lights when leaving a room. Parents should also educate kids on the impact of littering too," she shared.
Here are five things you can do to contribute towards sustainable living.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, 30% of food is wasted globally across the supply chain, contributing to 8% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. To reduce food waste, create compost using fruit peels, eggshells and non-meat food residue. A simple method is to use a bokashi (fermented organic matter) composting bin, where kitchen food waste is sprinkled with bokashi powder. After a few weeks, the waste transforms into fertiliser.
Instead of throwing away unwanted things, donate them to charity or join local Facebook groups like Beli Nothing Group and Buy Sell Nothing Group. The movements encourage people to donate free items to people in their community without expecting anything in return. You could also breathe new life into something old. Instead of throwing away an old pair of jeans, how about repurposing them into a pencil box or small tote bag?
Energy-efficient appliances can help lower utility bills while protecting the environment from harmful greenhouse gases. Choose items like LED bulbs and Energy Star (which promote energy savings) appliances. You can also opt for home energy management systems, where users can control appliances and energy usage remotely.
Trees absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. They are vital in maintaining biodiversity as well as soil conservation. Earlier this year, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin launched the Greening Malaysia campaign to plant 100 million trees across the country by 2025. You can also contribute by taking part in tree planting activities or planting small trees around your house.
Solar energy is sustainable and inexhaustible. Using photovoltaic (PV) panels to harness energy from the sun reduces our carbon footprint and cuts down on carbon emission.
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