With global temperatures rising each year, it’s hard to imagine that just one person could make a difference where the Earth is concerned, yet there are many things we can do to reduce our carbon footprints and make our daily lives more eco-friendly.
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Real change starts at home, so ensuring that your house is energy efficient, changing the way you use transportation, and teaching your family and friends about climate change and how to affect it are all important ways to help. Educating yourself is the first step, but it’s imperative that you make an effort to pull apart the facts from all the opinions and misinformation that can be found online regarding climate change.
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Read on to find out some of the most frequently asked questions and how you can help your community give back.
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What are greenhouse gases?
Greenhouse gases are made up of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, among others, and come from many different sources. Deforestation, or the removal of many trees at the same time, causes carbon dioxide trapped inside trees to be released into the atmosphere, where it lingers for up to a hundred years and traps heat, creating a “greenhouse effect” and explaining the nickname. Cars also provide emissions that become trapped in the atmosphere, which means anything that requires transportation could be bad for the environment. Driving a car back and forth to work every day, ordering items online that have to be shipped and delivered by a truck, and flying frequently are all ways many pe ople contribute unknowingly to global warming. Some of the ways you can cut back include shopping locally, carpooling, or investing in a hybrid car.
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If the Earth is getting warmer, why are there still such cold winters?
Climate and weather are two different things. Although the Earth’s atmosphere is getting warmer gradually due to greenhouse gases that are trapping heat, there will still be changing weather patterns that cause snow and even ice storms. If global warming continues at the same pace, however, cold winters will become more and more rare.
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Global warming can have many different types of effects all around the world, but they are already being seen in places like the Arctic, where glaciers are melting at an alarming rate. This means that many forms of plant and animal life are in grave danger, and sea levels are rising as these massive ice boulders dissolve, which can cause flooding in many areas around the globe.
Having constant warm, moist air in the atmosphere means that the possibility for disastrous weather events is even greater, and coastal areas could see an increase in tsunamis and hurricanes.
Global warming is a scary thing to consider, especially once you begin to do the research behind it. It’s important to remember that something this big will take time, and that it’s a topic rife with controversy in many circles. Becoming more knowledgeable about the causes and effects will help you educate others, which will in turn bring about change.
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One of the first–and easiest–things you can do is make changes around your home. Making eco-friendly choices such as replacing your light bulbs with energy efficient ones, installing a smart thermostat, reducing your hot water use, and making sure your home is well insulated can all have a huge impact on the amount of carbon dioxide your home emits every year. Not only that, but making those changes will cut your utility bills, as well.
You can also talk to the people in your community about climate change and put together a special interest group to focus on real impacts you can make in your community – and beyond. Consider hosting a fundraiser of some kind, with a clear message and mission. The fundraiser could be as simple as selling t-shirts that encourage positive change in your community to a more extensive effort, such as organizing an evening gala to raise money to donate to a non-profit.
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