The planet is becoming more and more urban; nearly half the population lives in cities, which is becoming an important factor in climate change. A city of a million inhabitants generates 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide a day, 300,000 tons of waste water all of which affects the soil and the local and world atmosphere.
If we leave cities and go to the country-side and to rural areas, we find other problems and also other opportunities. One of the most important activities in rural areas and which is negatively affecting climate change is the agricultural sector, due to bad farming and livestock management.
But in the country, there is also the opportunity to reduce CO₂, given that in the soil is to be found our greatest plant reserves and we know how trees and plants absorb CO₂. That is why a better and more intelligent handling of agricultural activity and increase in woodland areas and undergrowth is necessary.
Agriculture depends on climate and soil; if this becomes a desert or rainfall tables drop, agricultural production will be reduced, which is the scenario forecast by the IPCC for Spain. It is also negatively affected by sudden changes in temperature or torrential rain. These effects are forecast for coming years, from which the agricultural and livestock sectors will suffer the consequences. The FAO foresees that fragile environments in rural areas like the coast, arid and mountainous areas, face the risk of loss of crops, livestock, fishing and forestry resources.
In order to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, we should go over to organic farming and conservation. This type of farming helps to improve the fertility of the soil and spread biodiversity and at the same time reduce CO₂. The use of herbicides and pesticides should be abandoned in agriculture, because they impoverish the soil, kill insects and birds and produce illnesses in man. Other measures are to stop using nitrogenous fertilizers and promote organic fertilizers. Better management of watering to not waste water. Avoid burning tree-trimmings and use this waste for biomass or fertilizer. Incorporate renewable energy. Opt for feeding animals with local resources and avoid transport of goods.
What can a young person from a rural area do to reduce the impact of climate change?
- Be informed and tell friends and family about the situation.
- Put into practice the recommendations of this guide to reduce energy spending, save water, not contaminate, reduce rubbish and help to ensure that the natural environment of the village has more trees, that there are not fires and favour respect for the environment. How can this be done? By participating in programmes organized by school, being watchful at home and running small campaigns. Every little bit helps.
Children in rural areas live closer to nature and this makes them guardians of animals, woods, rivers and seas. Many of them have their parents or if not a neighbour, working at sea, in the countryside, amongst fruit trees, vegetables, livestock, honey or timber; this is why a child is also a good source of information about the coming problems of climate change and about the malpractice which needs to be avoided.
With food, a lot can be done to reduce greenhouse gases.
How? Very easy, by requesting to eat fruit and vegetables which are local and seasonal. If you eat too much meat, eat more vegetables. We also have to choose organic produce and avoid waste.