A carbon footprint is a measurement of the “emissions” created by humans through their daily activities (Wiedmann & Minx, 2008). By allocating an individual’s annual emissions of carbon dioxide, a scientist or economist can estimate the total amount of contributing factors that have caused global warming (Wiedmann & Minx, 2008). In addition to quantity, carbon footprints take into account the worth or price generated from wares and services acquired by consumers who are responsible for creating negative impact on Earth’s environment beyond what is naturally produced (Wiedmann & Minx, 2008).
Effects of Carbon Footprint on the Environment
Our carbon footprint negatively affects the environment in multiple ways. One major negative effect of carbon footprint is that it is the leading cause for human-induced climate change which leads to global warming (Jones & Kammen, 2011). Pollutants from human activities enter the atmosphere; thus, causing air, water and soil pollution as well as other environmental problems. For example, emissions from cars have led to acid rain that damages forests and vegetation, reduces biodiversity of plants and animals, kills aquatic life in rivers due to acidification, harms aquatic life due to eutrophication or kills livestock by creating nitrate pollution. Another harmful effect of carbon footprint is that it decreases the habitats’ ability for successful propagation by destroying many resources like clean air as well as natural ecosystems (Jones & Kammen, 2011). Waste and garbage are also categorized as human-induced pollution which is the result of carbon footprint. Carbon footprint also increases water contamination by increasing carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide emissions which all lead to harmful effects on land, air and water. It also causes soil erosion by increasing temperatures and rainfall as well as decreasing the amount of oxygen in soil due to climate change. Carbon footprint has also been blamed for global warming (also caused by cars) that increases extreme weather conditions like heat waves, intense storms, landslides, floods and droughts. Most of these extreme weather conditions end up damaging crops that leads to food scarcity resulting in starvation.
Ways for reducing Carbon Footprints
It is very essential to prevent and reduce our carbon footprints as that would help to mitigate the effects of global warming, promote the public health, and boost our economy, as well as enhance sustainability (Jones & Kammen, 2011). The ultimate goal for reducing carbon footprints is to ensure that the earth does not run out of resources. Therefore, it is carbon footprints quite possible to reduce the carbon footprints at individual levels (Jones & Kammen, 2011). Ensuring low energy consumption would be one successful way. Hence, home measures for low energy consumption would include installing energy-efficient light bulbs, turning off lights when they’re not being used, unplugging appliances when they’re not in use (like microwaves or printers), and using a power strip for electronics plugged into an outlet. Also, we should avoid disposables; for instance, we should consider food packages which can be recycled or be reused. That would help reduce the rate of waste disposal into the environment. Also, institutions like schools should apply eco-friendly systems which promote energy and environmental conservation.
Jones, C. M., & Kammen, D. M. (2011). Quantifying carbon footprint reduction opportunities for US households and communities. Environmental science & technology, 45(9), 4088-4095. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es102221hWiedmann, T., & Minx, J. (2008). A definition of ‘carbon footprint’. Ecological economics research trends, 1, 1-11. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=GCkU1p_6HNwC&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=carbon+footprint&ots=D1DWHK6jSq&sig=-VVNusbktj6Y0KU8DsDYloDbdAw