During the past century, carbon dioxide buildup in our atmosphere and subsequent global warming
has caused the earth’s average temperature to rise a full degree. This may not seem like much, but such a rapid change in temperature has not occurred in thousands of years. If the causes of global warming aren’t addressed soon, temperatures could rise much more during this century, causing devastating changes in the earth’s already fragile ecosystem.
Global warming, although only recently recognized as a major ecological issue, probably began near the end of the nineteenth century when carbon dioxide emissions from burning coal, gas, and oil were spewing into our atmosphere at ever-increasing rates. The carbon, which remains in the atmosphere for 100 years or more, traps more and more heat from the sun, creating a “greenhouse effect.” Subsequently, the earth’s temperatures rise, directly resulting in serious changes to our environment .
Already the effects of global warming on wildlife are alarming. Climate changes are sharply felt in arctic regions as ice floes melt away, reducing hunting options for polar bears, and bringing grisly bears further northward. Creatures in all regions of the earth are affected as their habitats are altered by rising temperatures.
Warmer ocean temperatures have already caused catastrophic shifts in weather patterns causing more category 4 and 5 hurricanes, drought, and increased coastal flooding. Future consequences of the greenhouse effect could include considerable environmental destruction and major health risks.
Nearly one-fourth of the earth’s greenhouse gas emissions originate in the United States, home of only four percent of the earth’s population. Global warming can be traced directly to human activities that include the combustion of fossil fuels, various industrial processes, deforestation, and other changes in land use. Obviously, mandatory reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is imperative, but as yet legislation imposing limitations has failed to pass in the U.S. Congress.
However, you can help to significantly reduce global warming through lifestyle choices that you make every day.
By taking simple daily actions that save energy or use more renewable energy, you can reduce carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming, and save money too. For example, you can :
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Make smart transportation choices – drive less, carpool, avoid idling, drive a fuel efficient car.
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Conserve energy at home – keep the “energy hogs” in your house in check, buy appliances and electronics with Energy Star labels, learn ways to conserve energy in the kitchen.
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Conserve energy at the office – turn off your computer, monitor, and office printer overnight; buy recycled paper; recycle electronics, printer cartridges, and used paper.
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Reduce global warming in your own backyard – replace a gasoline powered mower with an electric or a manual push mower, plant a tree, grow a vegetable garden (and eat meat less often).
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Recycle whatever you can, and buy recycled products.
The World Wildlife Organization (http://www.worldwildlife.org/climate/involved/individuals.cfm) offers 12 simple actions you can take that will cut CO2 emissions by about 20,000 pounds. You can also find a complete list of 50 things you can do to save the planet from global warming at http://www.StopGlobalWarming.org.
The lifestyle choices we make now can greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, diminish global warming, and positively affect the future of our planet.