Though climate change has been a popular topic for some time now, many still don’t know the extent to which climate change is threatening our environment. From last year’s data, it is said that more than 2.4 million pounds of carbon dioxide are released into the air per second. Per second! 1 We are currently at a carbon dioxide level of 400 ppm and only increasing, which is way above the safe zone, my friends.
So first, it’s important to recognize why carbon dioxide emission is so dangerous. It’s a natural greenhouse gas right? Why has it gone so haywire? Well the answer is pretty simple: it’s a heat trapping gas. So think of it as a blanket, the colder you are the more blankets you want to pile on to keep you warm. This is the same with CO2, except that the earth doesn’t need these extra “blankets”. In fact, these extra layers are detrimental to the environment. 2
What exactly does it do to the environment?
It causes an increase in global temperature, and this can lead to:
- crop losses
- animal extinction
This is just a short list, but the consequences of just one of these events will bring about a domino effect of their own.
So what are we doing wrong?
Carbon dioxide emissions mostly come from burning fossil fuels (like coal, oil and gas) for electricity and transportation. I think it’s clear that we all like electricity and transportation, so it makes sense that these are heavily depended upon and often overused.
But wait, doesn’t the earth have a nature defense mechanism to protect itself?
Yes! It does, but unfortunately we are surpassing the levels that both plants and oceans can absorb these emissions. In fact, when the ocean takes up too much it can cause ocean acidification, which is a huge threat to the health of ocean ecosystems (think of the disappearing coral reefs). These natural defenses can’t keep up with the current rate of carbon dioxide increase. 3
So I hope you are beginning to understand the extent to which this problem reaches. Don’t be discouraged though; don’t stop here! You (yes, you!) have the power to create change.
So what can I do?
I know that sometimes, as just one person, you can feel helpless and small. But as Frodo from The Lord of the Rings has famously proved, “even the smallest person can change the course of the future”- J.R.R. Tolkien. Yes, I’m sure you’re awesome at reusing and recycling, but there are plenty more easy changes you can introduce into your life to combat increasing carbon dioxide emissions. This list is here to help you start creating positive change.
- Be knowledgeable and stay updated
I hope that in reading this article so far, you’ve already learned more about climate change. Now that you know the facts, you are ready to take action.
- Filter your own water
Filtration pitchers are an easy way to cut your usage of plastic water bottles. Lose the unnecessary waste from these “single use” water bottles.
- Say no to straws
Reuse (or stop using all together) “single-use” plastic. It’s a lot of trash and emission for only a one-time use.
- Turn of electronics
When you’re not using your devices, make sure to turn them off so that they’re not unnecessarily using electricity. This will save every household thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide every year.
- Use local transportation or carpool
Lessen vehicle carbon emissions (plus gas money, and traffic) by travelling in company. For every mile you don’t drive, it’s about one pound of carbon dioxide less.
- Lose the lead foot
Take it easy on your breaks and accelerator while driving. Extreme accelerations can reduce your gas mileage up to 33%.
- Keep your tires inflated
When your tires are at the correct pressure, you get more out of your gas mileage. Less gas usage = less carbon emission.
- Shop green
Support local, organic, and sustainable foods companies that care about the environment. It’s said that 13% of U.S. greenhouse gas emission results from the production and transportation of food (which on average is 1,500 miles from farm to supermarket).
- Join environmental groups
Stay involved and help organizations near you that are already making change in your community.
- Use your voice
Talk with (important note: with not at) your friends and family. Let them know why this is important to you and should be to them. Consider contacting your political leaders to let them know the environment is worth protecting.
When you start introducing these little changes into your life, you will be a part of creating positive change to keep the earth happy.