| Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Heroes of the UAE

Are you saving the UAE, or does the UAE need saving from you?

Because of its desert climate and high level of imported resources, the UAE has one of the highest per capita ecological footprints in the world, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature’s (WWF) Living Planet Report. It’s hardly surprising, given that we crank up the air conditioners to keep our homes, schools and offices cool (often cooler than we need) and that much of the food we eat and the goods we buy are shipped in from overseas. And just think of all the energy we use in desalination plants to make sure we have plenty of clean water to drink – phew!

‘We are consuming more natural resources than the planet can regenerate,’ says Tanzeed Alam, Policy Director at the Emirates Wildlife Society-WWF. ‘If we keep using them without care or responsibility, there can be only one conclusion: one day they will run out. This is not the legacy we want to leave for future generations.’

It’s not only the fault of big businesses like energy and construction companies, though. Alam says that households account for 57 per cent of the overall burden. Our editor was astounded – and ashamed – to discover that if everyone consumed as much electricity as her family, we would require 1.6 times more than the world’s current resources. (Check your household carbon footprint calendar at www.heroesoftheuae.com).

‘We all have an important role to play to help tackle this enormous carbon footprint,’ Alam says. ‘The temperature of our planet is rising, which is leading to more chaotic weather patterns – and the UAE is not immune from that. It’s already hot, but scientists predict that temperatures could rise by five degrees by the end of the century and by two or three degrees by 2050.’ It may not sound much but the impact on the planet – and the way we live – could be devastating. ‘Our water resources will be put under more stress and the unique, critically-endangered wildlife we have in the UAE will be even more threatened. Sea levels will rise and, given that the major UAE cities are on the coast, this will affect us all. It’s in all our interests to act early. Kids are going to grow up, have their own families and the planet could be a very different place from what we live in now.’

So what can we do about it? Alam reckons even the small stuff can make a huge difference. ‘We’re not saying ‘stop using this or that’ – it’s about how to live our current lives in a more conscious way. Whether you’re a kid, a CEO or a housewife, we can all take action. Saving money and reducing carbon footprint can be done through minimal investment and effort.’

Time Out Dubai,

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