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Carbon Footprint – Reducing the Causes of Global Warming

Mom always said to wipe your feet so you wouldn’t leave footprints in the house. Mother Earth needs you to do the same. A carbon footprint is how much our day-to-day activities impact the environment, specifically how much carbon dioxide is being emitted as a result of what we do and how we do it, including energy usage in transit and at home as well as what we eat, drink and otherwise consume. Carbon dioxide emissions form the bulk of greenhouse gasses in the earth’s atmosphere which prevent heat from dissipating into space and reflect it back to the earth’s surface, causing global warming.

Global warming is a serious threat to life on Earth. Although it’s subtle, it’s consistent. Glaciers and ice caps are melting at an alarming rate, causing sea levels to rise, which in turn leads to severe precipitation patterns including floods, blizzards, tornadoes and ironically, floods. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) along with 40 scientific organizations worldwide has concluded this is due mostly to the carbon footprint of human activity, specifically overuse or non-renewable fossil fuels and rapid deforestation. Trees convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. Throughout its life, one tree is capable of absorbing as much as one ton of carbon dioxide.

Three simple actions can significantly reduce your carbon footprint: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Reduce your overall consumption, including energy, fuel, paper and petroleum-based materials, and reuse things as much as possible instead of just throwing them away. Recycle what you can’t use. Recycled paper saves trees. Packaging made from corn-based resin reduces the amount of oil used to produce plastic. For example, plastic water bottles require 17 million barrels of oil annually. Although they are completely recyclable, only 30 percent of them are, leaving the rest to choke landfills where they account for a full one-fourth of all landfill mass.

Adjusting your thermostat just two degrees can reduce your carbon footprint by reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 2,000 pounds each year. Reducing the amount of material you throw away by just 10 percent can reduce emissions by 1,200 pounds; cut your household waste in half and you’ll save 2,400. If every family in the U.S. replaced just one incandescent bulb with a compact fluorescent bulb, 90 billion pounds of greenhouse gasses would be eliminated, the equivalent of 7.5 million cars! Every gallon of gasoline used emits 20 pounds of carbon dioxide, so car pool, use mass transit or ride a bike.

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