Global warming – what are CO2 emissions?

When we talk about global warming, one of the first things that will come up is how our carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are increasing the earth’s temperature. But what are carbon dioxide emissions and how are they created? We break down what it’s all about to help you understand how our climate is changing.

What are CO2 emissions?

Firstly, there are both natural and human sources of carbon dioxide emissions. The natural sources come from things such as respiration, ocean release and decomposition. Whilst the human sources come from deforestation, cement production and the burning of fossil fuels. When fossil fuels, such as natural gas, coal or oil, are burned carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere.

Burning these fuels releases energy which is most commonly turned into electricity, heat, or power for transportation. Basically, 87% of all human-made carbon dioxide emissions come from the burning of fossil fuels.

While the human sources of carbon dioxide emissions are much smaller than the natural emissions, they have however upset the natural balance that has existed for thousands of years. This is because we have been adding extra carbon dioxide to the atmosphere without removing any.

Normally, during the natural carbon cycle, carbon dioxide is absorbed by the plants and trees. However, we are currently burning fossil fuels at such a rate that carbon dioxide which is being released is more than the plants and trees on the planet can absorb. What this does is the extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been increasing the global temperature, causing things such as floods and drought.

What then is your carbon footprint?

If you personally want to contribute towards reducing your carbon emissions, then the first step you need to take is to determine your carbon footprint. Your carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere as the result of the activities of a particular individual. There are many ways that you can determine your own carbon footprint by using carbon calculators.

Once you determine your biggest carbon dioxide producers you can start cutting your emissions in various ways. You can start by cutting down on air travel, which can contribute to almost a quarter of a person’s annual emissions, and eat less meat, as cows and sheep emit large quantities of a powerful global warming gas known as methane.

Cutting down CO2 emissions globally is going to take time and effort by international corporations and governments. But at an individual level, you can start by cutting down on your own carbon footprint.

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