One of the most distinctive features of our living planet is the invisible blanket of gases that surrounds it, preventing the Earth from losing all of it's heat. However, since the beginning of the industrial revolution 200 years ago and the mass burning of fossil fuels, a much larger amount of carbon dioxide makes up this layer and is causing our planet to now warm-up very quickly.
Despite having had this layer of greenhouse gases for thousands of years, temperatures here have remained fairly constant at an average of -15 degrees Centigrade. Today however, with higher levels of greenhouse gases adding to this layer, more heat from the sun is trapped within it, with the average temperature in the UK now having risen to around 15 degrees Centigrade.
This is known as global warming, a key indication that the world's climate is changing and is most obviously seen with the rapid melting of the world's glaciers and polar regions. But, it is not just in these natural winter wonderlands that the effects of climate change are obvious, even in England we are noticeably experiencing longer heat-waves in the summer, and colder spells during the winter months.
In fact, around 45% of the UK's total emissions are released in everyday life, from running the house and transportation, to simply sending an email. It seems that nearly everything we do has some form of impact and it is the government's opinion that the only way for this to be reduced, is if people are aware of their carbon footprint as they can then make logical steps to try and reduce it.
With the average household creating around 5 and a half tonnes of CO2 every year, we all need to take actions to prevent us causing so much damage to our planet. This is actually relatively easy to do as it is simply that we need to be more aware about how much we as individuals, are contributing to the greenhouse gas effect. By following these simple steps, you will already be well on your way to reducing your own additions to the growing blanket that surrounds Earth.
First you need to calculate your own carbon footprint by using one of the following calculators: UK Government WWF Energy Saving Trust
Now that you know how much CO2 your household is producing, it is time to avoid unnecessary emissions so walk to work instead of using the car and turn appliances off when you have finished using them.
You cannot stop creating emissions, but you can try to reduce them. Things like using energy saving light bulbs, or taking public transport instead of driving, will not only reduce your carbon footprint but may also save you a few quid.
Some emissions cannot be avoided or reduced (such as flying), so these need to be offset. This means that you reduce emissions elsewhere to make up for emissions that cannot be reduced. There are many ways of doing this now but make sure that you try to find a company that has been approved by the UN and Kyoto Treaty, and visit the Government Website to learn more about it first.