Climate change is the elephant in the room that everyone can see but many refuse to talk about. For some, it is even a taboo topic not welcome at dinner table talk, but in some parts of our world climate change and global warming have already started to creep into relevancy more than ever. On a global spectrum it is an issue that must be governed, but on a smaller scale there are ways we as individuals can reduce our own carbon footprints in lieu of the bigger picture.
A carbon footprint is the totality of all carbon dioxide released from a particular activity performed by an individual during a given period of time. There are many tell-tale signs of climate change in our society, and even more ways to combat them on a personal level. A few threatening signs of global warming are as follows: The area covered by sea ice has grown smaller each year for the past 30 years, with the average decrease being about 3.2% a decade. The top half-mile of most major ocean waters is warming up. The past two decades have shown an enormous increase in heat absorbed by the ocean.
Identifying dangers of climate change
Coral reefs, global fisheries, and marine ecosystems are endangered by these low temperatures. This ocean heat also has the ability to change circulate patterns of the ocean, which can be responsible for a change in pattern and severity of tropical storms. Snow cover is melting sooner, air temperature on land is increasing, glaciers are melting, and amidst these tragedies, most are adopting the “out of sight, out of mind” mantra.
In my opinion, as inhabitants of this earth, we have certain responsibilities to it just as one holds a responsibility to the cleanliness of their own home. There are certain steps that we as individuals, or even as households can take to reduce our carbon footprints. The first and arguably most basic step to reduction is recycling. It is said that when you do not recycle, you are throwing away the energy that is used while making and distributing new items. Reusing also requires less energy during the creation of new items. This means that you are using fewer fossil fuels. However, by choosing to not recycle you are increasing your use of fuels, which actually contributes to climate change.
Steps to take in reduction of fossil fuels
This next step is one that has become extremely controversial in our society today: eating vegetarian or plant-based. It turns out that meat and dairy production are the t cause of 14.5% of manmade gas emission. By cutting out meat and dairy you would be reducing your carbon footprint by 8 pounds a day. If you are thinking this is a change you just cannot commit to right away, buying organic or in bulk, composting, and cutting out food waste or helpful and important food related reduction tactics.
Excessive shopping and fast fashion are another huge contributor to the global carbon footprint. By choosing to buy from local consignment or vintage shops, you are able to reuse items and then re-donate when you are ready for a new look. When we buy from cheap, trendy stores, we are contributing to “fast fashion.” Most of these items are shipped from China and require an enormous amount of fossil fuels to transport. These cheaply made items are also more likely to end up in landfills. Ditching the plastic shopping bags and opting for reusable bags instead is another easy step in the right direction.
Transportation and traveling are two more huge contributors to our problem. The average car produces about five tons of CO2 each year. Choosing to bike, walk, or take the train to work is one of the biggest steps you can take in contributing to reduction. By choosing an alternative to driving, you are not only reducing CO2, but you are also the congestion of traffic. If driving is not an option, try to be weary of “stop and go” or heavy braking and acceleration. It is said that aggressive driving contributes up to 40 times more fossil fuel. Keeping your car regularly maintained is a must.
With climate change on the rise, the world we know is changing at a rate that is impossible to see unless you are looking. I believe we as humans have a responsibility to learn, adapt, and grow to change alongside our planet. The steps I previously mentioned are introductory into the world of carbon footprint reduction, and on a larger scale they are pretty mild lifestyle changes. Calculate your personal carbon footprint and to learn more about the steps you can take to reducing it.