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The small Polynesian country of New Zealand, known for their scenic landscapes featured in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, exotic birds, and sheep farming has recently passed a bill that aims to cut their carbon emissions drastically, stating that the country will be at net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Although obviously New Zealand as a country isn’t causing the most damage via climate change – that honor can be awarded to mainly China, the United States, and India – it is a good start for the New Zealand government, and it’s encouraging to see a government recognize the drastic need for energy reform to prevent a climate catastrophe.
However, this bill by no means solves New Zealand’s problems with greenhouse gas emissions. About 50 percent of the country’s emissions come from animal agriculture, primarily sheep, who, like cows, produce a substantial amount of methane gas, a gas that is 28 times more harmful than the carbon that comes from burning fossil fuels. Animal agriculture is New Zealand’s main export, with their lamb and wool being sold across the world. The growth in demand for sheep has led to more of the natural land being turned into pasture, leading to the endangerment and extinction of many species. There are two main things that need to happen for New Zealand to become a carbon negative country: the amount of sheep products that are consumed need to drastically decrease, so more acres of land can be returned to a natural state of vegetation; people need to consume a lot less lamb; and the government needs to create initiatives and find a way to move the country away from needing sheep farming as their main export so their economy doesn’t crash. However, New Zealand has still taken a first step, far more than the world’s second biggest polluter has done, the good ol’ U. S. of A.
In the Arctic, climate change is getting worse than in most other places in the world. The reason for this has to do with the reflective qualities of ice. With the climate already warming up, Arctic ice is covering less of the planet’s surface area. This is bad for two reasons: firstly, there is less reflective qualities in water than in ice, which means that there are less solar rays getting reflected back into the atmosphere; secondly, due to the first reason, the rays from the sun get absorbed into the water, warming it up quicker. This in turn speeds up the process of warming more than in other places, because as the ice decreases, the surface area of the ice decreases, leaving more water to become warmer and make more ice melt. This is why the Arctic is experiencing climate change more dramatically than the rest of the planet.