The Importance of Eco-Friendly Lighting.

When Thomas Edison first presented the world with the incandescent light bulb in 1878, little did he know that his invention would amplify carbon emissions and contribute to significant changes to the planet’s eco-system over the next century. Since the late 19th century, global warming has increased by 0.85 degrees Celsius. 2015 was recorded as the hottest year on record by NASA and NOAA. The hottest year before that was 2014 hottest year and over the past century, 15 of the hottest years have occurred inside the 21st century. Without immediate change, the world is heading towards an apocalyptic ending.

Why do people need to take sustainability seriously?

Global warming and climate change is primarily caused from the release of carbon emissions from energy consumption and will have serious consequences for survival of Earth and its inhabitants. There are still several people arguing that global warming is ‘just a fad’ or a ‘conspiracy theory’. However, over 90% of the world’s leading ecological scientists agree that climate change and global warming are serious threats that need to be resolved immediately.

The graph below clearly shows an increase in the world’s temperature since the 19th century. Global warming measured by NOAA

The International Energy Agency (IEA) released a report that detailed the significant growth in energy consumption and carbon emissions since 1973. The need to conserve and seek alternative energy has never been higher. Some of the consequences of global warming include the following.

Extreme weather conditions.

There is growing evidence that global warming is contributing to extreme weather conditions. The first decade of the 21st century saw 3,496 natural disasters from floods, storms, droughts and heat waves. The number is five times higher than the 743 catastrophes reported during the 1970s.

Number of reported disasters by decade by hazard type

Several severe storms have occurred inside the 21st century, which includes:

  • Hurricane Katrina – USA (2005)
  • Thailand floods (2011)
  • Brisbane floods – Australia (2011)
  • South Indian floods – India (2015)
  • Myanmar floods – Myanmar (2015)

The United Nations Office for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) collects data on natural disasters and coordinate natural disaster reduction activities. They recently published the following infographic to highlight how the increased threat of natural disasters affects humanity.

Reduction in freshwater.

Sky News documented that a 1 degree increase in the world’s temperature could eliminate one-third of the world’s freshwater in 85 years. Global warming melts ice packs and glaciers, which increases sea levels and risks contaminating freshwater sources. Furthermore, a decline in mountain snowpacks reduces irrigation sources, which affects agriculture.

Famine and food shortages.

Climate change is already threatening the Earth’s ability to produce food. As the world’s climate increases, crop yields are expected to decline which will disrupt food production and distribution. Carbon emissions that cause climate change will:

  • Cause more droughts that will cause large scale crop losses.
  • Increase heat waves which will kill more crops.
  • Increasing turbulent weather conditions such as storms and floods can erode soils and wash away crops. Even worse, they may even salt the soils.

A decline in food production will also see the price of food increase. This will lead to angry and even violent reactions such as the food riots that occurred during 2008, when food prices tripled in countries like Cameroon, Haiti, Egypt, Yemen, Indonesia and Mexico.

Disappearing land mass caused from rising sea levels.

As the world’s climate warms, sea ice and the ice sheets around the Earth’s polar caps will start to melt. The rising sea levels may leave many areas underwater and further displace the world’s population. According to the EPA, the global sea level has risen 8 inches since 1870 and has been forecasted to rise by 16 to 56 inches by the year 2100. Islands such as Kiribati have already had to move their population elsewhere after their land disappeared under the ocean. Further evidence of rising sea levels can be seen in the graphs from the NOAA.

What is causing global warming?

Carbon emissions as a result of burning fossil fuels are a major factor that contributes towards global warming. The graphs and tables from the IEA illustrate the dependency on fossil fuels to generate electricity. What is more concerning is how the electricity output through fossil fuels has doubled since the 1970’s. There were 15515 Mt of CO2 in 1973 compared to 32190 Mt of CO2 in 2013, for which coal accounted for 46%, oil 33.6% and natural gas 19.8%.

China, the United States, India, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Germany and Russia are among the top countries that produce energy from fossil fuels.

Exporting energy is also big business with the United States being the top importer. In 2013, the USA contributed 5119.70 Mt of CO2 emissions through the nation’s energy consumption.

What actions are needed to make a positive change?

The urgency for sustainable solutions has never been higher. The human race is in its own race against time to combat climate change before it is too late. In 2015, over 190 countries met and signed the Paris Agreement to combat climate change. The agreement forged a global action plan to minimise global warming to 2 degrees Celsius by minimising global emissions through government, business and residential initiatives. Educating people about sustainable habits and practices as well as improving people’s accessibility to sustainable technology.

LED lighting is one solution to solving sustainability challenges.

LED lighting is paving the way for sustainability. The technology minimises electricity consumption by up to 80% and also provides users with cost savings. In fact, if the world was to transition to LED lighting overnight, CO2 emissions would be reduced by 735 Mt, which is equivalent to 250 coal-fired power plants.

LED lights have been the best choice for reducing energy consumption, however LED bulbs and retrofitting costs were too high. Over the last decade, costs have dropped significantly and when combined with the savings benefit from energy consumption costs, more people are making the switch towards a more sustainable lighting solution.

People incorporating sustainability into their lifestyle habits.

People are incorporating more sustainable behaviours into their lifestyle routines. This increased consciousness should further help to reduce carbon emissions. Some popular habits include:

  • Investing in energy saving technology.
  • Investing in solar powered technology.
  • Improving buildings lighting design so more natural light is used.

Eco-friendly lighting is the most important change in the lighting industry since the invention and commercialisation of the electric light bulb. The future of the planet is under threat from carbon emissions. However, LED lights can help combat energy consumption and carbon emissions.