CLICK BELOW for an introduction to what is a carbon footprint.
The three primary ways of reducing one’s footprint are:
- Food: Reduce your total consumption of meat as much as possible, replacing plant-based proteins in their place. You can also focus on purchasing products with less packaging, and choosing locally-produced foods.
- Transportation: Reduce your direct consumption of fossil fuels by choosing public transport, or fuel-free methods like biking and walking, over driving personal and family vehicles.
- Energy: Focus on reducing your household and personal energy consumption by using energy efficient appliances, unplugging your unused devices, taking shorter showers, and doing household energy audits to find more solutions.
Everyone and everything has a carbon footprint. Carbon is an element found in every living thing in our earth, and humans have increased the normal amount of carbon on earth, in the form of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Excess greenhouse gases in the air causes accelerated climate change. Some of the effects of climate change include warmer temperatures, ice melts causing sea levels to rise, coral reefs and other marine life dies, animal migration patterns change, ecosystems cycles and normal patterns are disrupted, and farmlands become desert.
As part of a natural cycle, carbon exists and is used by organisms across the six kingdoms, including plants and animals. Humans, since the industrial revolutions, are producing carbon dioxide three-times faster than it can be removed from the air by natural cycles. Carbon footprint is the measure of the mark someone or something leaves on the environment. It is measured by the amount of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, produced by a person, an object, an institution or an action, in a time period. Although everybody has one, some create a footprint much higher than others due to their choices.
A greenhouse gas is simply a gas that contributes to the greenhouse effect by depleting the ozone layer, allowing the earth to absorb and trap more infrared radiation. When heat gets trapped in the atmosphere it makes the Earth warmer, leading to climate change, or “global warming.” Greenhouse gases come from all sorts of everyday activities, such as eating certain foods, using electricity, heating our homes, and driving around town. The only way of by reducing our carbon footprint which can be done through various ways:
All living things are made up partly of carbon. It is also present in non-living things such as rocks, oceans and the air. It is never still– carbon is always on the move! It travels around the world through a cycle called the carbon cycle in a process where it is used by living organisms, released into the air, and goes back into transformative cycles in the earth.
In the atmosphere, carbon is attached to a gas called CO2. Plants absorb this carbon dioxide along with sunlight to make their own food and grow. When they die and they decompose, plants turn into fossil fuels such as coal and oil over millions of years. This CO2 is slowly released into the atmosphere as other goes back into the earth making it a sustainable, natural process that doesn’t harm the environment when it occurs naturally.
Humans have sped up parts of this process. They took the fossil fuels from the Earth and put carbon dioxide into the air, but never returned them to the earth, so they filled the air with greenhouse gases and made climate change a huge issue. Plants were not able to keep up with the pace humans set, and due to the fact that we started cutting down trees, the problem got much worse. We must find a way to complete the carbon cycle and return the gases to the Earth without releasing more into the atmosphere.
By: Alejandro Escobar, Carolina Moreno, Mariana Posada and Felipe Hoyos