The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference has kicked off in Paris, with leaders from the heaviest emitters to those with the smallest impacts participating in negotiations to tremendously reduce global emissions by 2050.
Excess greenhouse gases in our atmosphere are contributed to human change on the environment– through operations like burning fossil fuels, cutting down old growth rainforests, and farming livestock . These activities release greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere which catalyzes an increase in average temperatures. This warming causes climate change meaning weather events becomes more extreme– hot gets hotter, cold gets colder, hurricanes, tornadoes, and tsunamis become more intense.
Global warming causes ice caps and glaciers to melt at rates faster than before, which eventually will lead to sea level rise. The largest sea level rise will come from thermal expansion in the oceans, caused by an increase in average ocean temperatures.
However, we as a human race can counter-act the damage that is yet to come. It is hopeful that the UN negotiations over the next two weeks will push political leaders to pledge for reductions through alternative energy and altering consumption patterns.
One of these consumption patterns is growing hemp in the United States and using it as a sustainable way to develop in developing nations! Like all plants, hemp absorbs carbon dioxide as it grows, but hemp is considered a biomass crop, absorbing carbon dioxide at higher rates than non-biomass crops. Hemp absorbs approximately 1.7kg carbon dioxide per kg hemp. Normally, biomass crops are used for fuel which would cause the CO2 to be re-released. But considering hemp is an excellent insulation material, when using hemp for this purpose the absorbed carbon dioxide is trapped or sequestered in the building; therefore, reducing carbon emissions! In addition it’s high insulation value saves energy costs over time which further reduces carbon emissions and our world’s global warming potential!