Sometimes it is better to do a little thing to make a real change in the struggle against climate change.
It can sometimes seem that the forces conspiring to promote climate change are so overwhelmingly powerful that it appears impossible to do anything about it: it is not just that governments continually fail to take their responsibilities seriously but that people in developing countries really do need their emissions in order to live a decent life. However, scientific research often finds a way out of the gloom of despair by highlighting practical means of making a difference without having to change the world. In some cases, then, making a small difference really can make a positive change. One example of this is in replacing black carbon and methane from production processes in parts of the developing world where the use is prevalent – replacing the fuels with more climate-friendly ones can promote health and agricultural productivity too.
Black carbon and methane are substances that have seriously negative health impacts in addition to their climate change implications. They can damage plants and lungs and contribute to ozone formation. However, people continue to use the fuels that produce them because it is traditional for them to do so and they are convenient to find or buy. In general, people are quite happy to change things for the better (assuming they have not been fooled by the dissemination of some kind of conservative ideology) when it is relatively easy for them to do so and they understand the incentives for doing so.
The people likely to be most affected by climate change caused by these products include those in Central Asia, where there are extensive fields of snow and ice, since the black carbon darkens the snow and, since it does not reflect the sunlight so well, contributes to its more rapid melting. However, since climate change is a cross-border phenomenon, the causes of the pollution occur far away. In fact, it is in South Asia (i.e. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan) where these problems occur because people there use dung and wood for fuel for daily living and in commercial applications. Substituting a renewable form of energy could save several million deaths per year, it has been estimated.
What makes this a comparatively easy thing to achieve is that there are so many different ways in which these fuels are currently being used that, for many of them, there are clear substitutes which could be employed instead. This makes micro-financing a real possibility. Communities can, with suitable knowledge and training, use the changes to make extra income from agricultural production and repay that way any changes that might have been required.
For more details, see this story at Science Daily.