Green Building Community

Climate Change, Part 1: It’s All About the Straws, Isn’t It?

Posted by: GreenCE Sustainable Design and Construction // Sustainable Content Creator at GreenCE

Climate change is happening, despite the differing opinions and facts surrounding it. It’s become quite the divisive topic, eliciting passionate debates. It’s easy to understand why those in favor of climate change argue vehemently for it, but harder to understand why anyone would deny it. Maybe one of the reasons people deny it is because they don’t understand it, especially the difference between global warming and climate change. It’s hard to process such a large issue with so many components, even for people who work in the sustainable industry. It’s also overwhelming when so many of the problems are huge and too big for one person to change, causing a feeling of uselessness.

Does Bill Gates Know Everything?

Yes, Bill Gates does seem to know everything. Every newsletter received via his fantastic blog,GatesNotes, teaches me something new. A recent post, Climate change and the 75% problem, outlines the main categories contributing to greenhouse gas emissions:

  1. Electricity (25%)
  2. Agriculture (24%)
  3. Manufacturing (21%)
  4. Transportation (14%)
  5. Buildings (6%)
  6. Miscellaneous (10%)

Gates expands on each category, but the one that resonates the most for the purpose of our industry is Manufacturing. He writes, “Look at the plastic, steel, and cement around you. All of it contributed to climate change. Making cement and steel requires lots of energy from fossil fuels, and it involves chemical reactions that release carbon as a byproduct. So even if we could make all the stuff we need with zero-carbon energy, we’d still need to deal with the byproducts.” Product manufacturers want the highest ROI, and focusing on the effect of a product on the environment doesn’t always produce the quickest or highest return.

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