On Friday, January 27, the United Nations announced its goals that will make sustainability the top priority over the next five years. According to a UN press release, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon stated in a recent General Assembly meeting, “Environmental, economic and social indicators tell us that our current model of progress is unsustainable. Climate change is destroying our path to sustainability. Ours is a world of looming challenges and increasingly limited resources.”
Mr. Ban encouraged the assembly to work with scientific knowledge to help bring about a safer climate and reduce member nations’ negative impact on our world. Mr. Ban’s message was reinforced by a huge visual reminder of the cost of carbon emissions, a giant sphere located near the visitor’s entrance on 46th street.
The green blow-up ball, sponsored in part by the Santiago Climate Exchange, a Chilean program that helps offset and reduce carbon emissions in that country, represented one tonne of carbon dioxide. The average American produces enough carbon emissions to fill 17 spheres. In contrast, Chileans create only four tonnes of carbon emissions per person each year, less than one fourth of the impact of each American.
While much of the carbon footprint comes from industrial use and transportation, according to the EPA each American home contributes four tonnes of carbon each year. Limiting electrical usage, switching to more efficient heating sources and lowering thermostats in winter, and reducing the amount of waste your home produces are all easy ways individuals can help reduce their own environmental impact. You can find out how much carbon emissions you produce each year by checking out the EPA’s emission calculator. The site also offers more tips on how you can do your part to reduce your carbon footprint and help create cleaner planet.