Global warming refers to an increase in the average temperature of the Earth as a result of the greenhouse effect, in which gases in the upper atmosphere trap solar radiation close to the planet's surface instead of allowing it to dissipate into space. Both natural and human-made conditions can contribute to global warming, but human beings can do several things to reduce the effects. (See References 1)
Reduce Fossil Fuel Use
Burning fossil fuels increases the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. There are two ways to reduce fossil fuel use: Use less energy, or use alternative, nonpolluting energy sources like solar and wind power. (See References 1) At home, this translates to saving electricity by using energy-efficient appliances and compact fluorescent light bulbs, as well as reducing gasoline use and buying green power from your electricity provider, if available. (See References 2)
Because carbon dioxide is the most important greenhouse gas, planting trees and other plants can slow or stop global warming. Plants take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. They use carbon to build their own tissues and return some of it to the soil in a process called sequestration. Deforestation of rain forests is a large contributor to global warming and CO2 emissions, but planting new trees, even in your own backyard, can help to offset this. (See References 3)
The production of garbage contributes to global warming both directly and indirectly. Decomposing waste in landfills produces methane and other greenhouse gases. Waste also requires energy to manufacture in the first place. Reducing your consumption patterns and reusing items whenever possible minimizes your carbon footprint, since fewer new items need to be made. Recycling metal, plastic, glass and paper lowers greenhouse gas emissions, since recycled items take far less energy to manufacture than items produced from scratch. (See References 4)
Cities consume significant amounts of energy when purifying and distributing water, which contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. Saving water reduces the amount of energy used. At home, turn off water immediately whenever you're not using it, and repair or replace leaky faucets and toilets. In your yard, landscape with plants and grasses that require less water, and capture rainwater in barrels for irrigating. (See References 2)
Based in central Missouri, Rachel Steffan has been writing since 2005. She has contributed to several online publications, specializing in sustainable agriculture, food, health and nutrition. Steffan holds a Bachelor of Science in agriculture from Truman State University.
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