Global warming is something that we are all made very much aware of in the media. It describes the process of the world heating up (climate change) to temperatures that could damage the ecosystem and threaten life on Earth as a result. Scientists generally concur that the Earth has heated up by 1 degree Fahrenheit in the last thousand years, and this has resulted in the destruction of some of the coral reefs, the melting of the ice caps and more severe weather. It is believed (though not proven), that humanity has largely contributed to this state through a range of activities and behaviours that are bad for the environment such as driving, flying and wasting important materials.
If this is the case, then it stands to reason that avoiding such behaviours – and replacing them with more conducive ones – could help the environment. And if each person were to make such lifestyle changes this could contribute a huge amount to the state of the climate and the atmosphere. Here then we will look at some of the things you can do to ‘do your bit’ and help improve the environment and prevent climate change.
What Causes Global Warming?
Before we look at how to do your bit to prevent and slow down global warming it helps to have an understanding of what it is and why it works in the first place.
The clue to how global warming works is in the name of one of its aspects, namely the ‘greenhouse effect’. The reason for this is that a greenhouse offers an almost perfect analogy for how global warming works – just like a greenhouse global warming means that heat gets in but can not get back out. This means that the temperature gradually rises faster than it drops meaning that the overall temperature continues to increase exponentially. In the case of a greenhouse this is of course caused by the glass ceiling and walls, whereas in the case of the Earth it is caused by the ‘greenhouse gasses’ which are the thick gasses that build up in the atmosphere and then trap the heat in.
These greenhouse gasses include fuel emissions from vehicles and all fossil fuels, but also carbon dioxide (which we breathe out), methane and water vapour. Thus, in order to reduce global warming and its effects, we need to reduce these emissions through the way we live. There are many ways we can cut our own ‘carbon footprint’ by creating fewer carbon emissions, but we can also pro-actively reduce carbon through our actions. Here are some things you can do:
Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Plant Trees: Trees and plants convert carbon dioxide (which damaged the environment) into oxygen (which we breathe and is good for the environment). As such it is important to try and prevent the destruction of rainforests and other greenery. However you can contribute to the repair of the environment a little yourself just by planting trees and plants in your garden. If you own some land, then tending for a garden is a great way to help the environment. It is said that if we planted one tree each year, that would be enough to negate any of our carbon footprints.
Do Not Use Unnecessary Electricity: One of the ways we are often told we can help the environment and limit global warming is to conserve energy. For many this is confusing – how can saving electricity help the environment? The reason though is simple – because the majority of your electricity comes from fossil fuels and these being burned releases emissions into the atmosphere that result in more trapped heat. Following are some ways you can prevent wasting electricity.
• Use energy saving light bulbs
• Fill the kettle with only as much water as you need
• Do not leave things on standby – it can use as much electricity as having it on in some cases
• If you have a rechargeable device, do not just keep it plugged in when using it
• Do not leave sockets on or plugs in when you are not using them
• Do not have lights on when you are not in the room
• Do not leave the heating on during the day
• Only wash full loads in the dishwasher, washing machine etc
Avoid Driving: Driving creates a lot of exhaust fumes as everyone knows, so traffic is one of the biggest contributors to global warming. Thus if you can reduce the amount you drive you can reduce those emissions and your carbon footprint. Opt to ride a bike then, walk, or take public transport when possible. Surprisingly, those who live in and near cities actually have a smaller carbon footprint than those in rural areas – the reason for this being that they do not have to travel as far to get into work and elsewhere.
Look for Fuel Efficient Vehicles: Sometimes you can not avoid driving and for the time being we do not all live in built up areas. In the meantime then ensure that you vehicle is highly fuel efficient. The most conscious of us will even buy electric cars and motors or hybrids.
Recycle: Recycling means that fewer trees need to be chopped down and fewer fossil fuels need to be burned. It also means less decomposing which can cause methane. Recycle by placing your items in recycling bins then, but also around your own home by re-using old items and making your own things. When you buy items try to buy things made from recycled materials.
Vote for Parties With Green Policies: One way everyone can have a tremendous impact on global warming is to try and ensure that we support the parties and politicians who intend to make big positive changes. We all have a vote and that is a very powerful thing when it comes to the environment.