Reducing Our Carbon Footprint

Natalie Wang, Reporter

One issue that has been a “hot” topic over the past few decades is climate change. Climate change on a global scale refers to a change in the overall weather patterns of the Earth over a long period of time. However, it can also be used to describe the recent rise in the Earth’s temperature, or global warming. 

Global warming doesn’t just mean hotter summers, it can have other effects on the Earth as well such as the rising of sea levels due to the melting of glaciers and ice sheets, and more climate extremes such as droughts and floods.

So, how do humans play a part in global warming? 

Evidence strongly suggests that human activity is the cause of global warming in the past several decades. Ever since the industrialization of the world, levels of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide continue to rise because of the burning of fossil fuels that power our homes and cars. When people think of greenhouse gases, they usually think of carbon dioxide. However, methane is a major contributor to global warming. Even though it occurs in smaller amounts, methane is 28 times more powerful than carbon dioxide when it comes to warming the Earth. 

Although the current situation seems dire, scientists have some good news. Everyone can do their part to help save the planet from global warming. Some of the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions are from transportation, agriculture, and electricity. Consequently, by walking to school instead of driving, or even carpooling often reduces greenhouse gas emissions and thus global warming. 

Another way is a change in diet. Livestock, particularly cows, not only have a larger carbon footprint (a greater emission of carbon dioxide) but also produce lots of methane as well. Plant-based foods tend to have 10 – 50 times less carbon dioxide emissions than animal-based products so eating a few vegetarian meals every week can help mitigate some of the pollution as well. 

Reducing electricity also decreases global warming. More than half of the world’s electricity is powered by the burning of fossil fuels, which results in the emission of greenhouse gases. Using lights only when needed, and unplugging unused electronics are obvious ways you can save electricity. Even though these might seem like small things, if everyone does their part it can make a huge difference and slow if not stop the steady march towards an uninhabitable Earth.