In this day and age where a person can hear different reports about global warming, increasing population, decreasing resources, it can make you consider how one person can make any difference in the big picture. The thing is, if everyone does a little bit, then after a billion or two people there starts to be a big difference.
My Carbon Footprint
In order to become more aware and curb your carbon footprint, it helps to first determine how much you contribute. Here are two sites to help determine how much you or your family contributes to the problem of global warming. The first site is done by the EPA here. It has three parts as follows:
- Calculate your carbon footprint;
- Explore what you can do to make a difference; and
- Tell you how much you can save by making changes.
Second is another site by the Nature Conservatory that will do a carbon analysis that breaks down your footprint either by you individually or your household. Sometimes just knowing how you are contributing will help in taking personal responsibility in making changes.
Is Global Warming Real
Listening to some of the different reports that come out, there are many that say global warming is occurring and a few that conclude that it is just the natural cycle of warming and cooling. Being an engineer and scientist, I always find it best to do some of my own research and determine the truth myself. What I found out from looking at Antarctica, Greenland, Arctic, glacial data, atmospheric composition, and ocean temperatures is that there is undeniable proof that warming is occurring (see these sites for more Antarctica Data and News). Additionally, glaciers are decreasing or disappearing (for example – Glacier National Park has already lost several glaciers) and the permafrost is starting to melt or recede in Alaska.
What Difference Does Global Warming Make
While humans will probably be OK in the long run, it will cause additional suffering and turmoil as rising oceans displace large amounts of housing and businesses that are near the seashores. Storms should get worse and more plentiful from the additional heat in the oceans and weather should also get more erratic. In fact, it appears that there is little that can realistically be done to stop the warming from happening (with our technology at this time) other than trying to slow how fast it occurs. Slowing the rate of change will not only help people adapt, but it will also help the animals and plants to adapt. It will also give time to transplant critical species and plants to new areas that are unable to migrate or adapt.
What Can I Do Now
As pointed out earlier, there are two sites that will help give you a feel for your carbon footprint and what changes to make. But what it gets down to is taking some personal responsibility as a member of this planet and actually doing something. If all 7 billion plus people work together, it will make a large difference. Some of the changes might be small such as:
- Change light bulbs to a more energy efficient type (like LED bulbs);
- Turn the temperature down;
- Use less water and a reusable water bottle;
- Recycle materials; and
- Only do full loads in your dishwater or washing machine.
If you are inclined there are also some large changes you can make in your life such as:
- Improve the insulation of your house;
- Get a more fuel efficient car or use public transportation;
- Use solar, wind, or water power for part of your electrical usage; and
- Raise your own garden and plant more trees.
One of the biggest things to remember is that we are all in this together. As the current stewards of the planet, we need to accept our responsibilities and do our duty to take care of this world for the next generation.