Though every resident of Dubai will disagree on which cafeteria serves the best shawarma or which new burger place will get you the most likes on Instagram, we all unanimously agree on one thing: It’s hot in the summer. The last 16 of 17 warmest years on record have occurred since 2001, with 2017 being the hottest, according to Nasa.
Ahead of us are five months filled with overheated, broken down cars, and sticky sweat gluing our back to the seat of the car, while we squint against the oppressive sun with no end in sight. But we have done this to ourselves! The 2008 World Wildlife Fund revealed that the UAE had the largest carbon footprint per capita, meaning that we produced the most carbon per resident than any other nation in the world. The summer heat is simply allowing us to reap what we sow. But fear not! There are ways to avoid the heat, while simultaneously doing our part to reduce our carbon footprint.
On September 9, 2009, Dubai revealed its new, sleek, driverless Metro. In my excitement, I bought a ticket to the end of the line and back. Like many other residents who drive cars, I haven’t taken the Metro since its inception. Yet, this year has brought with it many incentives to commute by public transportation. The first and most obvious is the traffic, which was bearable during the cool winter months, but now that the summer is upon us, my little sedan has become an oven. The Metro is completely fitted with air-conditioned cabins and reflective glass to combat the sun. Not only is using the Metro the most comfortable way to travel, it is also the most environmentally friendly. Michael D. Meyer, author of the book, Public Transportation and the Environment, said: “If an individual switches from driving a 20 mile (32km) roundtrip commute to using public transportation, his or her annual carbon dioxide emissions will decrease by 4,800 pounds (2,200kg) per year, equal to a 10 per cent reduction in a two-car household’s carbon footprint.”
Compromising a comfortable lifestyle is not a prerequisite to reducing our carbon footprint – it’s the other way round. To maintain our comfortable lifestyle, it is absolutely essential to reduce our carbon footprint. The authorities have recognised this and have implemented regulations on newly constructed buildings, specifically regulating energy consumption through the installation of solar water heaters, as well as operational systems that lower lights and thermostats when people are absent in the UAE, according to National Geographic. This does not negate the role of the individual in contributing to a sustainable city, rather it should empower us.
Our proximity to the equator also poses a threat to our existence. As temperature levels rise, living in this region becomes more difficult. Again, we stand at the forefront. Given our precarious geographic location we must act as a vanguard against global warming, not only because the environment is essential to our survival, but also because it really has become too hot!
- The reader is an economics student based in Abu Dhabi.