The alarming rate at which our planet is warming over the last two decades has initiated an international movement for the mitigation of climate change. The movement’s most important milestone came with the signing of the Paris Agreement by all nations, as it marked a turning point in combating climate change – especially limiting further warming of the planet by one point five degrees Celsius. With this being said, the following blog post focuses on minimizing the impact of natural disasters caused by climate change on human lives and minimizing the carbon footprint of construction practices.
The drastic effects of post-Industrial Revolution fossil fuel burning are intensifying at a greater rate today than ever before, and we are faced with the immense risk of unprecedented natural disasters of greater magnitude affecting densely populated areas across the world. For humanity to minimize the impact of natural disasters on human lives and mitigating climate change, we must change the way we build. As a student of the next generation of civil engineers, I strongly believe that focusing on how we build is one of the most important factors in preparing for unprecedented natural disasters. This translates to improvements in building technologies for materials in order to withstand natural disasters over an extensive and frequent period. Furthermore, the impact of rising sea levels must be taken into consideration for coastal communities as many are vulnerable to flooding. A solution to prevent such a disaster would be raising homes to a safe height so they would not be affected by coastal flooding. The above mentioned practices would help save lives worldwide and reduce the carbon footprint of construction methods.
Focusing on mitigating climate change through building practices is an important factor in lowering the current global warming rate, meaning reducing the amount of energy needed to run a building. According to Ned Cramer, buildings consumed 40% of energy across the United States, meaning that we must minimize the use of energy and carbon-intensive technologies such as electric lighting and air-conditioning, and revive low-tech solutions such as passive ventilation. Another way of mitigating climate change is by implementing established building codes that “conform to the net – zero energy building standard,” for example conforming to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. This can be achieved through the “ability of buildings to produce and store more energy – clean energy, from renewable sources such as solar and geothermal – than they consume” as mentioned by Cramer. Furthermore, the minimization of the contribution of building operations to greenhouse gas emission – a major chain contributor – during the manufacturing, transporting and erecting process will prove to be a great minimizer of the current global warming rate.
In conclusion, as we experience the drastic effects of post-Industrial Revolution fossil fuel burning, the field of construction seems like the most reliable source for climate change mitigation due to the scale of operations related to this field. This is because when one combines the footprints of each operation the result equals a great percentage associated with carbon emissions in the atmosphere. Such minimization does not completely solve the problem of carbon dioxide trapped in the atmosphere – since the current carbon dioxide levels would take about a hundred thousand years to return to pre-industrial levels – however, it is by far the most efficient and effective way to reduce emissions in the long run and improving life on our planet in the short run.
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