Today’s generation is quite aware of the term GREENHOUSE EFFECT. Greenhouse effect is associated with the temperature on the earth. As we know there are certain gases known as greenhouse gases responsible for trapping the sun's radiation and escalating the temperature over the planet.
We can say most of our activities whether be it transportation or development work or anything are the sources of emissions of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Have you heard something known as CARBON FOOTPRINT? Have you ever calculated the emissions of harmful gases from your activities? What are the sources of such emissions and how can we reduce it? All these questions are to be answered in today’s article.
What are carbon footprints?
This is the primary question that needs to arise from the above discussions. In India, we have a tradition to take the footprint of a new baby for good memories and to maintain a record. Similarly, our Earth is overwhelmed by different footprints.
The carbon footprint is simply the quantity of greenhouse gases emitted from anthropogenic activities. It can be determined at an individual level or community, state or at country level.
It includes all the greenhouse gases like CO2, CH4, Nitrous oxide, ozone and water vapour. Here confusion arises about the ozone gas. As we know ozone in the stratosphere is preventing us from the harmful UV radiations of the Sun, then how can we consider ozone as a harmful gas? The answer to this question is stratospheric ozone is helpful for us but tropospheric ozone is harmful for human health.
The tropospheric ozone originates from the reaction between nitrogen gases and volatile organic compounds in the presence of sunlight. However, tropospheric ozone is less in concentration to stratospheric ozone but is of concern due to its harmful effects on human health.
To know more about the effects of air pollution on human health: click here
Why is carbon footprint important?
The first importance is that we are able to know our contribution towards the environment degradation. After getting knowledge about our contribution, we can take several measures at an individual level which can be of significance to the environment.
Industries can know about the sources of direct emissions , from the emissions of vehicles, electricity, steam, heating, cooling and much more can be known.
Carbon footprint as per capita emission of greenhouse gases for the time period 2000 to 2016 for the country India:
Per capita emission of the country can be calculated by dividing the amount of greenhouse gases emitted with the total population. Therefore, we can understand two important things here:
From the data given below, it is clearly understood that the emissions increased after 2005 at a faster rate. However, the rate shows drastic increment from 2010 to 2015.
The higher the population, the less will be the per capita emission.
How can carbon footprint be reduced? And what are the sources?
If your aim is to reduce the carbon footprint, first we are abide to know about the sources of greenhouse gases.
The very first thing which comes to our mind as the source of greenhouse gas emission are the automobiles. Thus, we should use the vehicles which are properly maintained.
Avoid using vehicles, if possible.
Take the help of public transport facilities.
Use green vehicles instead of conventional vehicles.
Another source which attracts our eyeballs are the appliances such as refrigerators and air conditioners. Such appliances release harmful chlorofluorocarbons. However, as the understanding about the environment degradation has increased, the use of such gases has been restricted.
We should try using energy efficient appliances.
To reduce the wastage of energy, switch off your air condition as soon as your room gets cold.
Do not leave the refrigerator on during leaving your home.
Switch off every electrical appliance during leaving your home.
Another important source is our food habits. Everyone likes to have delicious food. But behind the scene there are some very important sources for greenhouse gas emissions. Transportation of the raw food is an essential part for the food industry. But transportation also adds the CO2 emissions within the environment. Another role is played by the consumption of meats. The consumption of meat emits more greenhouse gases as compared to the vegetables. The given data of 2014 shows the average emissions of GHG (greenhouse gases) per day for the British people:
The solid waste that we dump into the landfill sites is also a source for the methane emission. Methane is more harmful than the carbon dioxide. Thus, we should try to reduce the quantity of refuse going into the landfills.
The given diagram shows the waste management hierarchy. We should try to avoid the waste generation. Thus, our first priority should be the source reduction. The next step that we can try is reuse and then recycle. As recycling is energy consuming we should always try for reuse. The lowest priority is the waste disposal into the landfills.
We as a part of the environment should always try to protect our surroundings. We should always try to minimize our contribution. Innovative ideas need to be developed in the field. Alarming situation has now come, we all need to wake up.