There are a lot of little changes we can make to reduce our carbon footprint, but what about the big changes? What contributes the most to climate change and what can the average person do to lower their impact on the environment? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, carbon emissions from heat production, industry, transportation, and agriculture have the biggest effect on global warming. Carbon Dioxide is the primary gas that traps heat in the atmosphere and contributes to the warming trend. There are many complicated contributors to climate change linked to our consumerism, eating habits, and industrial practices, but making these three simple changes, can greatly reduce one’s carbon footprint.
Most scientists agree that the oil and gas industry is the biggest contributor. Unfortunately, burning coal, oil, and gas is used in nearly every industry and powers our transportation. It will take radical change to undo the damage caused by these oil companies. A report conducted by the BBC suggests that transport accounts for nearly 34% of a household’s carbon footprint. Therefore, driving and flying less and switching to public transportation or bicycles is one way the general public can help reduce its carbon footprint.
The way we eat also has a big impact on the environment. The meat industry contributes to climate change in more ways than one. Deforestation for the sake of agricultural space means less trees to absorb the carbon dioxide. According to U.N. estimates, livestock contribute up to 14.5% of the world’s annual total greenhouse gas emissions. We can make a difference by opting for more plant-based diets and cutting out red meat entirely. Additionally, land once used for livestock can be reforested by planting trees native to the area.
Everything we buy has to be produced, and the more we buy, the more products are made. Each item manufactured requires a certain amount of oil to be produced and then transported. Many items end up in a landfill where it stays for decades or centuries or more. When these items begin to break down and decompose they release harmful gases which further contribute to the problem. Gone are the days of frivolous materialism. It’s now more important than ever to limit our spending habits and do without items we don’t need.
A single household switching to public transportation or eating less meat may not make a big difference, but if enough people make these small changes, we can make a big difference.