Fossil Fuels: The Global Warming Problem

While many people have heard of global warming before, not everyone has a clear idea of what it is exactly. According to Amanda MacMillan, an overabundance of gases, mainly carbon dioxide, absorbs the radiation from the sun while it is trying to escape the earth’s atmosphere, causing the heat from the radiation to be confined in the atmosphere. This in turn causes the earth to become hotter and will change temperatures and cause other effects. Humanity is at fault for this problem. Every day that we use anything that releases these gases that pollute the atmosphere, we add to the problem. Since these gases are already plentiful in the atmosphere and can stay there for many years, it may seem like a hopeless cause. This is not so! If everyone works together, we can stop global warming. To halt the increase in global warming, we can reduce deforestation, change from fossil fuel energy to renewable energy, find ways to conserve energy around the house, and stop wasting food and water.

Even though deforestation is not the main cause of global warming, it does have an effect on the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, “When trees are cut down and burned or allowed to rot, their stored carbon is released into the air as carbon dioxide. And this is how deforestation and forest degradation contribute to global warming.” The main reason behind deforestation is to sell materials, like “wood and beef”, that are produced when the forests are cut down. Farmers will also cut down forests for more land to grow crops (Kukreja). Deforestation has had and will have major effects if it is not reduced. Besides global warming, deforestation causes floods and erosion, changes in humidity, acidity to rise in the oceans, and animals and plants to die. To stop these effects from continuing to happen, we have to cut down on deforestation. Laws must be put in place to regulate the rate of deforestation.

Also, the people who are cutting down the forests can plant new trees after cutting down the old ones. The governments and businesses must work together to stop deforestation but that does not mean we cannot help. We can use less of the materials that are produced by deforestation. This includes not eating as much meat as we are used to, using less paper than we have been, eating soy-free and palm oil-free foods, and buying from businesses that are helping deforestation. We can also find better ways to get these materials. More farms can be built to produce more beef. Deforesters need to cut down trees in moderation. If we can cut down the need for many of these products, deforestation will reduce, and global warming will slow down.

The main cause of global warming is the burning of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, are natural resources that are used to produce electricity (MacMillan). According to Tri Global Energy, fossil fuels affect the environment more than any other source of energy. Studies done by the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed that in 2014, fossil fuels were responsible for sixty-seven percent of electricity produced. Every time that fossil fuels are burned, gases are released into the atmosphere. It is not released in small amounts either. Fossil fuel usage in 2014 released “millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere” (Tri Global Energy). The problem is that we rely on electricity so much that it forces us to resort to burning fossil fuels, regardless of the cost to the environment. Because of this reliance, more carbon dioxide is trapped in the atmosphere each year, despite efforts for cleaner energy and less fossil fuel use.

According to Amanda MacMillan, these gaseous emissions had gone down from 2005 to 2014, but Tri Global Energy says that at the beginning of 2014, the emissions went up three percent. If we keep progressing this way, the world will become hotter, causing problems with oceans, food, and climates. The earth has already become .9 degrees Celsius hotter and is expected to increase at least .6 degrees Celsius more (Tri Global Energy). A solution to this overwhelming problem is the use of “renewable energy sources.” Some of these sources are windmills, solar panels, and dams. The same studies in 2014, show that thirteen percent of the electricity made was from these sources. Results from their use showed barely any changes to environments or global warming. As shown, they are a great improvement to fossil fuels. On top of their small effects on global warming, they are also inexpensive. Once the machines are built, they use natural elements, like heat from the sun and wind, which are free, as opposed to fossil fuels which must be bought. Another way to cut down on fossil fuel use is to make transportation fossil-fuel-free (MacMillan). Electric cars and electric trains are becoming more popular and are running on renewable energy. If we continue to make efforts to have cleaner, safer energy sources, global warming will reduce and eventually stop.

The problem of global warming can seem very big. It may seem that the average person cannot do something to help reduce the problem. In a way this is true. If only one person is working to make a difference, it will not do much to combat global warming, but if people around the world work together, they can make a big difference. There are many ways that people can help in their own homes. They could use some form of renewable energy, like wind or water, to provide electricity to their home and use devices, like refrigerators and dishwashers, that save more energy and give off fewer emissions. Also, they can unplug any unused appliances because according to Melissa Denchak, “Electronics use energy even when they’re not charging. This ‘idle load’ across all U.S. households adds up to the output of fifty large power plants in the U.S.” This means that even if these devices are not being used or are completely charged, they can still use energy.

So, if any devices are plugged in around the house that are not in use, unplug them to stop wasting energy. One solution that will reduce carbon dioxide emissions and also decrease “light pollution”, according to Andy McSmith, is simply changing a lightbulb! For such a small appliance, it produces tons of carbon dioxide. Not only do the LED lightbulbs produce less carbon dioxide than regular lightbulbs, but they cost less as well (McSmith). Based on McSmith’s article, if most people were to change their lightbulbs, this would cause a rapid decrease in global warming, and they will save more money as well. Changing lightbulbs is a no-brainer! A final way that someone can help stop the increase of global warming is to take care of their car. According to Denchak, keeping tires filled to the appropriate amount with air helps conserve gasoline, and air filters can help as well. Remember, no matter how small someone’s contribution may seem, it is always helpful. The key is just to work together to stop global warming.

How often do people waste water while brushing their teeth or taking a shower? How often do people waste their food and just throw the rest out? These both are contributors to global warming. Denchak says that these uses of water require much energy. Think about it. The water must be pushed into the showerhead somehow and heat up somehow. Energy does this, so if we could turn the heat down and spend less time in the shower, we would be reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Also, if people stop the water while brushing their teeth, they will conserve energy. Food waste is also a big deal. Food in the U.S. takes about ten percent of the energy to make and process it (Denchak).

Much of the food that is bought is wasted, so in turn, that energy is being wasted. If people waste less food, than they waste less energy, which means that less carbon dioxide from the machines to make and process food is being produced. Another part of the problem with food is people’s love for meat. These take the most energy to produce, so cutting down on meat in meals is will help to stop the increase in global warming. It might be inconvenient to take less time in the shower or eat less meat, but doing little things like these can help stop global warming. If global warming is to stop, some sacrifices must be made.

If all of these solutions to global warming are put into effect, global warming will definitely be reduced and eventually stop. Even if only a few of these solutions are used, they will reduce global warming. The main thing to remember is that everyone must do their part for anything to change. No one can stop global warming by themselves, but if everyone does a small part in reducing their fossil fuel use or changing their lightbulbs, global warming can be stopped. It is also important to remember that not everyone has to help. If someone is set against not helping stop global warming, just let them stick to their ways. As long as the majority of people help out, global warming will diminish.