The reality of greenhouses gases and how you can help

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The reality of greenhouses gases and how you can help

Everyone has played a role in the greenhouse effect and contributed to the greenhouse gases that are released into the atmosphere. Many of us aren’t fully aware that we’re doing it and, most of the time, we can’t help it. Because of our reliance on electricity alone, we will always be somewhat responsible for the warming of our Earth. But there are some things we can change, both as manufacturing plants and individual homeowners.


What’s the big deal?

The greenhouse effect is what’s used to describe the radiation effect that warms the Earth’s surface above what it should be, despite the protection of our atmosphere and ozone layer. Greenhouse gases (GHGs) are the fuel for this radiation and are, to some extent, natural and necessary for life on earth. But the mass additional GHGs that humans have built up and exposed to the atmosphere through industrialisation and burning fossil fuels is becoming too much for our atmosphere to deal with and the temperature is rising as a result.

At the rate that we’re currently at with regards to our greenhouse gas emissions (and considering the fact that some of these gases can remain at a concentrated level in our atmosphere for thousands of years), our planet is going to change and we will have to find ways to adapt to harsher climates.


What are the greenhouse gases?

The four greenhouse gases are:

  • Carbon Dioxide: A product of burning fossil fuels for energy and transportation
  • Methane: This is emitted from natural gas, petroleum, livestock in agriculture and waste landfills.  
  • Nitrous oxide: A culprit found in agricultural soil management (through the use and production of fertilisers) and burning fuels.
  • Fluorinated gases: These are the only GHGs that are not a natural product in the world and are a result of aluminium manufacturing and other industrial processes.


The Paris Agreement

The world has united and come up with The Paris Agreement. There are currently 172 parties that have signed the agreement and are a part of the international effort to do what needs to be done regarding the greenhouse effect.

Not only does this mean they will be taking action on reducing man-made greenhouse gas emissions, but it also includes finding and implementing ways to deal with the current result of the greenhouse effect from years of ignorance.

Each country, or party of the agreement, is subject to compile regular reports on their greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation efforts. They are also responsible for setting and sticking to their own “goals” on how they plan to proceed in these efforts, which are dependant on their resources and severity of their country’s contribution.


What the world needs

The Paris Agreement commits to the ways in which the world can reduce their GHGs. And in the combined worldwide effort to reduce these emissions, the world and its industries need to:

  • Measure their carbon footprint and keep themselves in check.
  • Consider the carbon capping policy and an emissions permit.
  • Invest in green buildings and an overall reduction in the energy use in buildings.
  • Switch to sustainable energy sources such as solar or wind power instead of coal and fossil fuels.
  • Buy carbon offsets to support projects that aim to reduce the greenhouse effect.  

When you look at the GHG emissions statistics, electricity and heat production (25%), agriculture and forestry (24%), and the industry sector (21%) are the main contributors of greenhouse gases. If find yourself in a position of power within these industries, or even if you only have your foot in the door, step up and propose eco-friendly practises to start making a difference.

There are enough statistics on the internet of the severity of GHGs and even on where the most emissions are (China is reportedly responsible for 30% of the global greenhouse gas emissions).

It’s understandable that, eventually, the culprit sectors will have made all the changes possible to reduce their carbon footprint and no longer be in a position to reduce any further. The solutions at that point, are to start more combatant efforts to aid the earth in absorbing and ridding itself from the current GHGs or helping those that aren’t in a position to change. Things like reforestation and providing sustainable resource structures to underdeveloped countries, for example.


Starting at home

As with most worldly movements, it takes more than the governing bodies of a country to make a difference. There are practises you can start implementing in your own home and everyday lives as well that can help make a difference to the greenhouse effect.

  • Reduce, reuse and recycle
  • Use CFL light bulbs
  • Walk or ride your bicycle where possible
  • Drive a fuel-efficient vehicle when necessary
  • Energy-efficient appliances and products
  • Plant trees in your garden
  • Use less air conditioning or heating in the house
  • Switch electronic items off when not in use


And, more importantly, encourage others to do the same.


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