Okay…here goes. After much deliberation I’ve attempted to write the worlds shortest story about global warming…
There are 3 fossil fuels: coal, oil and gas. Extract these from the earth, convert them into energy (and other things) and in the process add a whole lot of green house gases such as carbon dioxide (otherwise known as CO²) and methane into the atmosphere.
Green house gases aren’t normally a bad thing because a natural balance keeps our planet at a comfortable temperature and allows us to live here. You can sort of imagine that the atmosphere is like a doona keeping all the warmth in. All the time our planet experiences natural events like volcanic eruptions which spew a huge amount of CO² into the atmosphere, actually around 200 million tonnes per year. But the planet is usually able to cope with this CO² because a lot of it gets absorbed into the natural environment such as forests and oceans. But when you deliberately take huge amounts of fossil fuel from the earth and burn it over 150 years or so AND remove large areas of the biomass i.e. trees and forests for farms, paper, furniture and houses, then the extra CO² being released from burning fossil fuels, builds up quicker than it can be absorbed. The whole system then goes out of kilter and suddenly the summer doona is starting to feel more like a winter one and we have a problem some people such as scientists call global warming. Global warming may eventually lead to climate change.
The amount of CO² from fossil fuels we humans release per year is about 100 times greater than that of volcanoes.
If you don’t bye the whole global warming thing that’s okay. There are plenty of other reasons why making changes to our homes and lives makes good sense.
We make stuff, we bye stuff, we use stuff, we waste stuff and most of this stuff is reliant on fossil fuel in some way. It’s winter in Sydney so we use electricity to heat our homes. That electricity is made from burning coal. We drive our car to the shops. The fuel is made from refined oil and releases CO² into the atmosphere as we drive. At the shops we buy apples wrapped in plastic with our credit card. The fertilizer used to grow the apples, the plastic wrapping and the gold visa have all been made using oil and other chemicals taken from gas during the refining process. And this is just one person buying some simple healthy apples. The amount of stuff we all consume is using an enormous amount of the planet’s fossil fuel and natural resources and if we make changes to the way we do things, we can help make these resources last longer.
Our carbon footprint is the measurement of the amount of fossil fuel gases that we release into the air as we use energy in our everyday lives. Believe it or not, domestic energy use accounts for around 20% of global green house gas emissions. The biggies are heating, cooling, hot water and running appliances. This is why solar energy makes good sense because the sun provides free energy, but there are small changes you can make to reduce your carbon footprint and the good news is it could save you some money too.
Our ecological footprint is the measurement of the earths natural resources like water, timber and metals against the earth’s ability to regenerate them. At the moment, we are ALL using earth’s resources faster than they can be regenerated especially in the developed countries like Australia. But that’s okay because we won’t be around when they run out so our kids or their kids can worry about it.
Somehow, my social conscience tells me that’s not good enough so personally, I’m concerned about what I can do to reduce my environmental footprint on the planet right now. That’s why we’ve taken the step of working towards a more sustainable house and lifestyle. I believe all of us can take simple measures to reduce our footprint and help preserve our amazing planet for our children and generations to come. We don’t need to be purists about it. Just do what you can and feel good about it. Remember, small changes CAN make a big difference.
Keep an eye out for the next post to see the things we’re doing to help provide some relief to the planet.