Planet Dearth: How climate change will destroy our world if we don't act quickly

October 17, 2016

Here’s a bleak thought: If we do nothing, the Earth’s temperature will rise uncontrollably, the ozone layer will disappear, the Antarctic ice sheet will melt – causing sea levels to rise and flood most of the world – and for those left standing, the world will resemble the set of a post-apocalyptic Hollywood film.

But here’s an encouraging thought: We can do something.

In late 2015, 195 countries signed the Paris Agreement, a worldwide acknowledgment of climate change that doubled as a pledge to curb the rising temperature of the Earth by 2 degrees Celsius every year.

But while it’s encouraging that climate change finally received its fair share of the global limelight, there’s still a lot that needs to be done.

The Paris Agreement merely exposed how carbon emissions are reaching the point of no return. The fact still remains, however, that we are collectively emitting carbon at an alarming rate – the average American is responsible for 17 tonnes of carbon pollution every year.

So what can we do to stem the tide against climate change?

There are the obvious solutions, like purchasing energy-efficient items from light bulbs to a new car, but those solutions alone aren’t enough to cover your 17 tonne carbon footprint. Then there are the not-so-obvious solutions, like contributing to a cause that can stop carbon emissions in their tracks.

The latter is where Cool Effect – a forward-thinking, environmentally conscious nonprofit you may not have heard of – comes into play.

As the saying goes, “It’s better to light a single candle than sit and curse the dark.”

“And climate change is truly a dark subject in need of a few candles,” said Dee Lawrence, co-founder of Cool Effect. She fully embraces the idea that big change can happen if you’re humble enough to start small.

In 1998, following devastating hurricane Mitch that swept through Honduras, the Lawrence family started small by traveling to the storm-torn country to work as translators in a small medical clinic.

But the Lawrence family ended up doing more than translating.

Inspired by an observation and connection of respiratory illness to smoke from daily cooking by their young daughter, Skye, the Lawrence family decided to tackle the issue. They found an improved cookstove that not only reduced smoke but burned half the amount of fuel and began raising the money to install as many as they could.

The discovery that wood savings translate into a reduction in CO2 emissions, provided a way forward for expansion of the project. In 2007, Proyecto Mirador was certified, validated and verified to reduce emissions by about 3 tonnes of CO2 per year. The issuance and sale of these carbon credits enabled the project to expand steadily over a decade.

By 2015, 100,000 cookstoves had been built in rural homes, delivering healthier, cleaner, more economical living conditions to Hondurans while reducing the amount of wood taken from forests. By early 2017, the project will have reduced 1 million tonnes of CO2 proving that starting with small actions can make a difference.

Now, the Lawrence family is lighting a new candle – Cool Effect – and they hope it will result in the expansion of projects around the world that reduce carbon emissions and slow the effects of climate change across the globe.

Cool Effect’s philosophy is simple: If we all come together to support them, a handful of environmental projects leveraging human ingenuity could significantly reduce the amount of carbon we pump into the atmosphere per annum.

And whether that funding comes in one big chunk of cash through the sale of 100,000 tonnes, or a billion microscopic pieces, the end result is still the same – the world gets healthier.

That’s where you come in.

There’s a part to be played by everyone when it comes to reducing carbon pollution in the world, and if we all pitch in, we can create real progress. That’s why Cool Effect scours the planet in order to find the most productive carbon-cutting projects, and offers them up on a sleek, intuitive crowd-funding platform.

The pricing models are straight-forward and transparent – and most important, whether you donate once, monthly or even the bare minimum, you’re given the chance to change the world every time you click.

So what kind of projects are we talking about here?

The Cool Effect “Coollection” includes a wide array of carbon neutralizing initiatives, from fighting deforestation to building clean energy resources in impoverished areas. Each project is available for your direct support, but you can also donate to the Coollection as a whole and have your money touch all of the projects at once.

That said, there are a few stand-out programs that deserve a hard look:

  1.  The Los Santos Wind Power Project
    Costa Rican energy utilities are nationalized, meaning the government gets to set the price of electricity for its constituents. This is generally bad news for impoverished families, however, since the construction of wind turbines, by a cooperative named COOPESANTOS, Costa Rica has been able to lower its carbon emissions and reduce energy costs for citizens.Supporting this project will help keep the breeze going in Costa Rica with the construction of three new wind turbines and the reduction of 11,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions every year.
  2. The Southern Ute Indian Tribe Methane Capture Project
    The Earth beneath Colorado contains an enormous amount of coal, and every time coal gets mined, it releases methane – a harmful greenhouse gas – into our atmosphere.

    The Southern Ute Indian Tribe Methane Capture Project reduces 27,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year by ingeniously funneling methane releases into existing gas pipelines.

    The project will help support the Southern Ute tribe, who concocted this amazing solution yet doesn’t profit from it, and help decrease local demand for natural gas.

  3. The Alto Mayo Conservation Initiative
    In response to rampant deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon, the Alto Mayo Conservation Initiative wants to create a win-win scenario for the forest and the people who depend on it.

    The project will dedicate the proper resources toward ending deforestation in the area – reducing an average of 500,000 tonnes of carbon pollution every year, protecting the over 400 bird and 3,000 plant species and ensuring the delivery of fresh water to 240,000 area inhabitants.

    The conservation initiative also supports the existing local coffee market, by educating producers on sustainable farming processes and elevating the coffee to certified organic status.

  4. The Malawi Institutional Cookstove Project
    Deforestation in Malawi is a serious problem: The planet needs trees in order to combat carbon pollution, but the people of Malawi need wood in order cook their food.

    The Malawi Institutional Cookstove Project aims to eliminate 4,579 tonnes of carbon emissions by building stoves that can help prepare lunch for entire classrooms of students while requiring 75 percent less wood. Supporting this project will help put institutional cookstoves in more 1,000 schools and benefit 327,000 children.

Now, make no mistake: Although several of Cool Effect’s projects help improve the lives of people across the globe while combating the carbon crisis, it’s not just the touchy-feeling stories that catch their attention.

Cool Effect conducts thorough financial analyses in order to determine the viability of each project, studying where the funding goes and who benefits from the carbon credits.

And every penny you contribute comes with the promise of complete transparency.

Part of the company’s “Carbon Done Correctly” promise, Cool Effect plainly states that 90.13 percent of all funding goes directly to project partners. The remainder of that funding – fee money – goes toward research, credit card processing fees and administrative costs. Out in the open, plain and simple.

Ultimately, Cool Effect believes that it has created the easiest way to make an impact on our environment.

So step up and do your part today – whether you contribute to a single project that catches your eye (and your heart) or simply make a bulk donation to the Coollection – because we have a long but conquerable road ahead of us.

To learn more about Cool Effect and to make your first contribution, click here.