Carbon footprint is a term used to describe how man's individual
activities contribute to the accumulation of greenhouse gases
(carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide) into the atmosphere.
Greenhouse gases block the transmission of reflected heat and
this triggers global warming and induces erratic climatic patterns.
A carbon footprint that is large adds to this problem. If not
abated, global warming will raise global temperature by as much
as 2.5 degrees Centigrade by year 2100, melting the polar ice
caps, raising sea levels and lead to the inundation of low-lying
areas. Moreover, shorelines will recede. Experts estimate sea
levels to rise by as much as 1 meter. Since this is a global phenomenon,
it is mandatory that each country share in the drive to reduce
its carbon footprint and preserve planet Earth.
What causes the rapid accumulation of greenhouse gasses?
Scientists maintain that massive production activities during the
industrial revolution (early part of the 20th century) started it
all. Factories that churn out cars, trucks, appliances, food items,
clothing and air travel all contributed to the build-up of greenhouse
The emergence of pertinent technologies likewise altered the lifestyle
of humans. Even for short distances, man would drive his car instead
of walking. In the home, we extensively use appliances such as washing
machines, microwave ovens, vacuum cleaners, air-conditioners or
coolers, heaters. All these appliances draw electricity and thereby
contribute to the rise of people's individual carbon footprint.
Man's imprudent reliance on technology is instrumental in the rapid
deterioration of the environment, contributing to our carbon footprint.
Every energy intensive activity is matched with a corresponding
carbon footprint rating. Driving a car is rated 15-percent; electricity
eats up 12-percent; recreation and leisure activities get 14-percent,
public services is 12-percent and holiday flights are 6-percent.
If everybody else takes their share of the burden seriously through
a gradual shift in lifestyles, reduced dependence on fossil-fuel
burning vehicles and the incessant use of electricity, we can reduce
our carbon footprint enormously.
A recent study revealed that in homes, shifting from the use of
incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent lamps helps reduce carbon
dioxide emissions by as much as 4-percent. This is one simple action
people can take today to reduce their carbon footprint.
What are the necessary steps to take?
Man's carbon footprint falls under two categories including the
primary and secondary footprint. To reduce your primary footprint,
lessen air travel during vacations. If possible, tap electricity
from power plants that harness renewable energy (hydro, wind, geothermal).
Use solar heaters for your home's heating and cooling needs. Avoid
using the car and instead use the public transport system and when
really necessary adopt the "share a car" scheme to reduce
the travel footprint.
Secondary carbon footprint refers to goods and materials that are
life sustaining. For example, when buying groceries, try to avoid
imported products or those shipped from distant plants because the
fact of transportation raises emission levels.
If the tap water is safe, why insist on consuming bottled water,
particularly if its spring water or of volcanic origins. While being
transported from far-off locations, the manufacture of plastic bottles
generates a considerable volume of emissions.
The best way to help curb greenhouse gas emissions is to extensively
plant trees. Dense vegetation absorbs hazardous carbon
dioxide emissions, thereby improving your carbon footprint rating.
Areas that have been left unattended following forest fires or
perhaps left barren by unscrupulous loggers should be planted right
away with trees as it takes decades to grow the required forest
cover. So, instead of going on holidays far, far away as Shrek would
say, why not involve your family in a tree planting expedition that
will not only be fun, but fulfilling as well.