Countries turn to resource-efficient, less-carbon-emitting technologies
More countries are turning to more resource-efficient, less carbon-emitting, and less water-consuming systems as compelled by a global effort to mitigate the impact of predicted increasing temperature.
A Year Book released by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) noted that an international consciousness on global warming over the last decade has caused a shift to more environment-friendly practices in the use of resources.
In construction, at least 10 percent of domestic construction work has already moved up to resource-efficient technologies as reported by the McGraw-Hill Construction Analytics.
“The United Kingdom for example has launched a voluntary industry agreement aimed at cutting by half (by 12.5 million tons) in 2012 the amount of construction waste going to landfill. It could recover materials worth an estimated billion,” UNEP reported.
Governments have already introduced programs that eliminate carbon emission in construction of buildings. These include Canada, France, and the UK where certain buildings are being designed to be energy neutral.
Instead of using fossil fuel-based energy, such structures make use of solar and combined heat and power systems enough to supply electricity need of these buildings.
While there are about 880 million people internationally that do not have enough access to clean water and 2.5 billion lack proper sanitation, efforts to cut water consumption in various sectors have been noted.
From chemical means of treating pulp (used for paper), a paper mill in Finland has turned to the use of thermo-mechanical ways of treating pulp, and has also constructed a biological wastewater treatment facility that enables water reuse. This generates savings in water use by up to 90 percent.
In India, the use of zinc in synthetic fiber for textile manufacturing is cutting water use by 80 percent of a fabric producer from its former use of aluminum in textile production. This Indian textile company now channels clean water for irrigation in neighboring farms.
A sugarcane manufacturing system in Mexico now cuts water use by 90 percent through the separation of process water from sewage water. In Sao Paolo, Brazil, a Spanish construction firm managing a 300-kilometer highway has enabled rainwater to replenish groundwater through its road system that channels rainwater to 250 dams that have a two million cubic meter-capacity.
With this global consciousness on reversing climate change’s effects, UNEP noted an increasing ice cover in the Arctic Sea in 2008, although it is still minimal at just 10 percent more than in 2007.
“While 2008 saw 10 per cent more ice cover than in 2007, the lowest figure on record, it was still more than 30 per cent below the average for the past three decades.. (Year) 2008 had the second smallest area of Arctic sea-ice left following the summer thaw since satellite monitoring began in 1979,” noted the Year Book.
It is apparent that mere natural melting may not be the cause of the loss of ice sheets in Greenland at its 100 cubic kilometer per year ice sheet melting. This turning into water of the Greenland ice sheet can raise sea level by six meters, it was estimated.
These facts have been causing an alarm for environmentalists along with observations of the opening of the Northern Sea Route “along the Arctic Siberian coast.”
“The two passages have probably not been open simultaneously since before the last ice age some 100,000 years ago.”
Because of the many manifestations of climate change, the Year Book said that “urgent action is needed to curb greenhouse gas emissions, not least because some of the natural carbon storage systems or ‘sinks’ may be losing their absorption capacity raising the spectre of a runaway greenhouse effect.”
By Melody M. Aguiba