The facts behind global warming

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The scientific consensus is that global warming is real, is a significant threat, and that human activity plays a significant part in the process. In fact, virtually every peer-reviewed study into climate change has reached this conclusion, and it is only those with a vested interest in industries which are responsible for climate change that are vocally against the science.

This is not conspiracy theory. It is accepted scientific fact, and the waste management industry has a particular part to play in whatever remedies we have to offer to combat climate change and to change human behaviour in both its industrial behaviour and household habits.

Global warming is the gradual increase in temperatures across the planet caused – in the main – by man-made pollution and gas emissions. The greatest threat is from the release of carbon into the atmosphere through such processes as burning fossil fuels through our everyday activity. Even the breakdown of everyday refuse releases carbon, in the form of carbon dioxide and methane, into the atmosphere. These gasses cause reactions in the upper atmosphere that traps the sun’s heat, causing a slow but steady rise in temperatures, like a greenhouse. Hence the name “greenhouse effect”.

Yes, we all love a warm summer, but it’s not as simple as that. As well as causing widely-publicised melting of ice caps (and who hasn’t been moved by images of stranded polar bears?), global warming causes greater extremes of weather. Scorching hot summers, but also colder winters, drought and floods. So while it may sound clever to complain about the “global warming myth” when it snows at Easter, you have to remember somebody is suffering a year-round drought elsewhere in the world.

The waste management industry is at the forefront of the fight against carbon emissions and climate change. As the end customer for domestic and commercial waste, it’s our responsibility to ensure that it is handled and disposed of correctly to minimise emissions and to promote re-use of increasingly rare materials.

That’s why there’s such a debate about energy recovery. It’s a sound alternative to environmentally damaging landfill, but comes with its own challenges with CO2 releases, as well as other gasses. Any increase in recycling brought about in the waste industry in good news for the climate change problem. The challenge is working toward a zero-emission economy with the full backing of politicians, industry and public.

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