Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Global warming in Portugal

The viability of the planet is at stake, which translates into economic costs and damage to nature over the last few decades. This scenario brings disaster which is not good news for Portugal, one of the European countries most affected by global warming. Against this background, we have , on the one hand, the issue of energy inefficiency and, secondly, the degradation of natural resources and biodiversity as the major problems and challenges of the country. The solutions are identified and drawn but there is a long delay in putting them into practice.

What needs to be done:

· Stop the destruction of nature
Natural resources are the basis of ecological sustainability and without it there is no economic and social sustainability. Their dissipation will cause the destruction of the systems that support life: water, soil, forest, energy sources, creating irreversible situations. Without them, the hydrological cycles and the balance of ecosystems are not guaranteed.The loss of the ecosystems balance has serious consequences. The examples are quite obvious. When the buildings occupy protected areas and natural spaces, beds of rivers or the coast, the ground ceases to be permeable, to be fertile, to regenerate. Floods, forest fires, droughts or falls of land are obvious consequences which have already begun to be felt. When these problems are associated with cases of pollution, the situation may become irreversible. Warehouse of water contaminated or salinized, degraded soils where not even a grass grows, ashes of the fires that remain and are dragged slope below for reservation of fundamental water, as the dam of Castelo do Bode.

· Avoid the erosion of the coastline
On the coast there is a combination of explosive problems, because that is where all the threats are combined, from the likely increase in erosion and rising sea level due to climate change, to the pressure on soil protected both by the Ecological Reserve as by the Agricultural Reserve within and outside protected areas. And what is at stake here is not only the loss of biodiversity but the capacity of agricultural production. Together with the wrong planning of the territory that inhabits not only the coastline is the uncontrolled growth of metropolitan areas, which produces a hand-full of problems: more noise and air pollution, more energy consumption, more problems of sanitation and waste treatment, among others.

· Investing in energy efficiency In Portugal, as in the rest of the world, the solution lies in reducing the emission of polluting gases, which is only possible to ensure if we reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. We must fight the battle in two fronts: on one hand, it is urgent to reverse energy inefficiency of a country that spends far more than necessary and with a dependence on energy from abroad to more than 85%, on the other hand, we should make a great investment in sources of renewable energy that reduce our dependence on oil. Portugal is studying the possibility of using the sea as a source of energy, because it is one of the countries with the best conditions for this purpose.

· Individual measures / actions

A hybrid car is a car that has more than one engine, where each uses a type of energy for its operation. As an example, we have a car that combines the explosion engine and electric engine: one uses energy from the burning of fuel and the second uses electricity. Although the hybrid car pollutes less than cars only with the explosion engine, its costs are high when compared to the difference in emission of pollutants.

The battery electric vehicles consist mainly on vehicles equipped with a set of batteries, charged by the network electrical energy which is supplied to an electric motor, which transforms electrical energy into mechanical energy, moving the car. Its advantages: reduction of noise, lower consumption, effective at any speed, smooth start and dispensing box and clutch for change. However, it also has disadvantages, such as limited autonomy between 90 and 150 km and limited speed (less than 120 km / h).

Apparently, the energy efficient bulbs have a huge advantage compared with the incandescent lamps as they allow a considerable energy saving. Indeed, the energy efficient bulbs can only be a great alternative to incandescent lamps when they are on for long periods of time. This means that it’s not worth to put these lamps in areas of the house where they will be switched on and off frequently, such as in the corridors. Moreover, as the manufacturing requires a greater consumption of energy and the use of toxic materials, such as mercury-vapour, its advantage in ecological terms will also be compromised.

Margarida e Ana