Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a colorless gas that is naturally present in the air as a result of the natural carbon cycle of our planet. While emissions come from many natural sources, it is the CO2 produced by manmade processes such as fossil fuel combustion and power plant emissions that are problematic. This, in combination with the destruction of natural carbon dioxide sinks through deforestation, is creating an unhealthy environment on our planet and contributing significantly to climate change. Therefore, it is very important that we seek to reduce our own carbon footprint as much as possible.
Reduce Vehicle Emissions
One of the biggest producers of the CO2 saturating our atmosphere are the vehicles many of us drive every day. This is the second largest source of carbon dioxide produced in the US, accounting for 31 percent of the total emissions. This isn't just limited to personal vehicles, however, as anything that runs on a gasoline or diesel fueled engine contributes to this problem.
The best way to solve this on a personal level is to limit the amount of CO2 your own vehicle produces. Get a gas-efficient vehicle or a hybrid car to make all of your trips a little less wasteful. Also, car pool with coworkers or friends or use public transportation when you can to cut down on the cars traveling the streets.
Reduce Energy Consumption
The only facet of our current society that produces more CO2 emissions than transportation is electricity production. Many of our power plants burn fossil fuels to generate the power we use, and obviously the more electricity we consume, the more energy plants must produce.
Energy is used in more areas than just your home, including for business and for industry, but cutting down on how much electricity you waste in your own home will always help. Focus on purchasing energy-efficient appliances and always be searching for new ways to keep your house appropriately warm and cool during winter and summer so you don't need to run the central air as often.
Reduce Waste Consumption
As mentioned previously, industry uses a lot of energy in manufacturing everything we use in our day-to-day lives. So, it follows that if we can recycle many of our products, less energy will need to be used in producing more. Make sure to always recycle anything you can from paper and plastic to batteries.
Restore Natural Sinks
Oceans play a vital role in absorbing the carbon dioxide present in the atmosphere. As absorption of carbon dioxide by ocean is a slow process and can take hundreds of years, this process cannot keep pace with the huge amount of the gas emitted every day. However, plants and trees also use carbon dioxide during photosynthesis for sugar production. While we can't make more ocean on this planet, we can push to restore and preserve forests and rainforests in order to start balancing out human CO2 emissions.
There are other things still that can be done to help improve our carbon dioxide situation, even if they aren't tasks the average person can control. For example, as a society, we must continue to push for improved technology in our power plants, so our energy consumption does not produce as much waste.
Improving technology will also help more directly with how much electricity we use. Appliances and electronics are more efficient now than they have ever been in the past, but we should always strive for better regardless.
Doing your individual part may not seem like much in the grand scheme of things, but if everyone does their best, it will eventually add up to a significant improvement in the fight against climate change.