Climate Change and CO2 Emissions

Can you think of something that most of our daily activities have in common? That's right, most parts of our modern life rely on energy. The production of most of that energy releases greenhouse gases, one of which is CO2. CO2 is an important type of greenhouse gas. It is a naturally occurring molecule that is essential for maintaining our planet's temperature and good growing conditions. However, since the Industrial Revolution, the burning of fossil fuel – such as coal and petroleum – has produced excessive amounts of CO2. Our current atmospheric CO2 level is 400ppm, a level that last occurred about 20 million years ago. This is the highest level ever seen during human existence. All this excessive CO2 traps a dangerous amount of heat and will eventually turn our planet into a very hot place. To keep the Earth system in balance, we need to reduce our CO2 emissions, but it's hard to imagine a life without fossil fuel because it has been the main energy source for our modern life for a long time. We use fossil fuel not only to produce energy, we also use it to make many things.

New energy technologies – such as solar, wind, and geothermal – could liberate us from our fossil fuel dependence, but it will take a great deal of effort to build a clean alternative energy system that is strong enough to meet all of our needs. The energy transition will be a gradual process, but let's not wait until then to reduce our emissions. We need to start today, consuming less of everything, from meat and water to all those knick knacks that we throw away so easily. Even simple things like not wasting food and avoiding extra packaging can help to lower CO2 emissions. Changes will happen is everyone – individuals, corporations, and governments – do their best. However, even if we cease all CO2 emissions, we won't stop the climate from warming. All the CO2 we've generated so far is like a thick blanket insulating the Earth and it will take time to dissipate. The sooner we stop burning fossil fuels, the sooner our Earth can begin to deal with all of this excess CO2. We all have to take part in reducing CO2 emissions to lessen its impact on global climate.