Global warming is defined as a rise in the earth’s average temperature. It is estimated that global average temperature has risen by about 1.4 Fahrenheit degrees since 1880 .
Human activities have played a major role in creating the crisis of global warming. The human activity that has been most harmful to the environment has been burning fossil fuels which release carbon dioxide (CO2) and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The CO2 levels today are 40 percent more than the highest natural levels in the last 800,000 years .
Another human activity that has been contributing towards global warming is deforestation. Plants and trees require CO2 for growth which means they help keep CO2 levels in the environment at reasonable levels. But when plants and trees disappear, we lose an important tool of reducing CO2. The result is an excess supply of CO2 in the environment which helps trap heat .
As an individual, I can adopt several strategies to minimize my contribution to global warming. One strategy may be to reduce use of my car and utilize public transportation for some of the travelling. Even when I use my car, I could still be more responsible social citizen by arranging carpool with colleagues and friends whenever possible. I also plan to take fuel efficiency into account when replacing my current car and my goal is to buy a car that travels at least 30 miles per gallon. For shorter commutes, I plan to walk more and maybe buy a bicycle which is even better for the environment than public transportation.
Another strategy I may use to reduce my carbon footprint is to reduce use of air conditioner in summer and heating in winter. I may adopt certain strategies that make the transition as less painful as possible such as allowing sunlight in room in winter and covering windows in summer. I also plan to replace most of my incandescent light bulbs with energy-star light bulbs. Even though energy-star bulbs may cost more initially, they could save me in electricity costs. I will also minimize use of lights for ambiance and decoration.
I will also minimize use of plastic bags and replace them with paper or reusable bags. Similarly, I will also reduce consumption of other products that unnecessarily produce waste such as coffee from fast food retail outlet or water in disposable plastic bottles. I will brew most of my own coffee and install water filter that should ensure I don’t buy commercial coffee and bottled water too often. I will also engage in community projects such as planting trees which will contribute towards lower amount of carbon dioxide in the environment.
But I do not only have to make direct contributions towards reducing carbon footprint. I can also make indirect contributions by educating others and influencing those within my circle to adopt environmentally-friendly lifestyle habits. In fact, I credit one of my best friends with instilling in me a habit of reusing plastic bags. I remember my best friend would specifically take plastic bags from home before going for grocery shopping if he would not have any reusable bag. That left a huge impact on me that someone was taking his social responsibilities so seriously even though some friends even ridiculed him. This was also a lesson that good deeds have the power to influence others in a positive manner.
- Environmental Defense Fund. (n.d.). How are humans responsible for global warming? Retrieved February 5, 2014, from http://www.edf.org/climate/human-activity-is-causing-global-warming
- National Geogrpahic. (2007, June 14). Global Warming Fast Facts. Retrieved February 5, 2014, from http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/12/1206_041206_global_warming.html