Global Warming: Make a Difference...
Dubai, Jan 1, 2008 : First, the bad news.

Our planet is in the midst of a period of dramatic and widespread climate change, one that has been caused—we can now say with near certainty—by human beings.

A recent report from the United Nations confirmed that global climate change is an “unequivocal” reality and that pollution, primarily in the form of hydrocarbon emissions, is “very likely” to be at the root of these changes. The report went on to add, in the strongest possible terms, that a failure to act and to act quickly will put our very existence in peril.

Which brings us to the good news.

Unlike many of the major problems facing the world today, global warming is one that we as individuals can do something about, on a personal and professional level. Whether recycling our bottles and cans, walking to work or turning the lights out in our homes or offices, we can make a difference.

This fact should spur each of us to action as we enter into 2008. Over the coming year and beyond, we will all have the opportunity to do our part to reduce our carbon footprints, whether individually or as part of a group.

For organizations, there are specific steps that can be taken to reduce waste and conserve energy. Switching to energy-efficient fluorescent or halogen lighting is one such step, or providing recycling bins for not only paper products, but glass, plastic and other recyclable materials. Other positive measures that can be taken company-wide include:

: Discouraging unnecessary travel among employees; using technology to allow for remote meetings, where appropriate
: Using non-toxic, recycled and/or biodegradable office supplies, including toner cartridges and a wide range of paper products
: Expanding the use of motion-sensitive lighting; reducing the amount of time before a light in an unoccupied room automatically switches off
: Replacing outdated computers, printers and other equipment with energy-efficient models
: Introducing two-sided printing; discouraging unnecessary printing; using email communication instead of paper
: Encouraging carpooling and car sharing among employees
: Providing reusable cups, plates and other items for employee use
: Ensuring that air conditioning units and other equipment are running efficiently
: Reusing pencils, folders, boxes, packing materials, notepads and other items

The fact is, however, that many of these steps necessarily rely on the constant cooperation of individual employees. It’s important, then, that companies encourage and empower individuals to have a positive effect on their environment. This drive should not be about enforcement or coercion, but personal choice.

Employee encouragement might come in the form of an internal campaign—let’s call it “Make a Difference”—in which people are asked to choose a set number of pledges from a predetermined list, to be followed according to the honour system. At the end of the campaign’s duration, employees can be invited to share their experiences—what they have learned, what they have achieved, and so on.

The “Make a Difference” pledge list might run as follows:
1. I will take the stairs to my office, rather than the elevator, at least 50 per cent of the time
2. I will drink from reusable cups, rather than paper or plastic
3. I will not print emails and other documents unless absolutely necessary; I will print with smaller sized fonts and will use both sides of the paper
4. I will reuse notepads, envelopes, boxes, scrap paper, folders and other office supplies
5. I will conserve energy by turning my computer and other equipment off at night, by shutting off the lights when I leave a room and by using natural light
6. I will carpool to work, or take mass transit, or walk, whenever possible
7. I will cut back on unnecessary travel, both air and ground, using telephones and email for business-related discussions, where appropriate
8. When shopping, I will forego paper or plastic for reusable bags
9. I will choose products with environmentally-friendly packaging, when they are available
10. I will recycle whatever I can, including cans, paper, bottles and durable goods like mobile phones and computers
11. I will not let taps run longer than necessary; I will minimize use of hot water
12. I will keep the air conditioning temperature as moderate as is comfortable

Addressing this looming global catastrophe will not be a matter of grand, government-driven initiatives. Instead, the solution lies in each of us doing our own part, saving the planet in increments, one small step at a time. So it is vitally important that people are given a sense of involvement and investment in this critical issue.

It has taken the world a long time to respond to the emerging threat of climate change, and it will take more time to fully grasp what, exactly, we can do to reverse this process. Unfortunately, reducing our carbon footprint is still an inexact science. It’s encouraging, though, to know that a single recycled ink cartridge, a single instance where someone refrained from printing a document unnecessarily, is at least making a difference.

We at ASDA’A are committed to reducing our carbon footprint in 2008 and beyond, and we urge anybody reading this to do likewise.