How is environment related to Carbon Footprint?
Climate change is changing our planet, causing extreme weather events such as tropical storms, wildfires, severe droughts, and heat waves, as well as negatively impacting crop production and disrupting animal natural habitats, among other things. Because greenhouse gas emissions are the primary cause of global warming (and thus climate change), it is critical to understand how carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions affect the environment.
After all, how can we change our ways and save the planet if we don't understand the impact of carbon emissions?
The greenhouse effect describes how the sun naturally warms the Earth's surface. When greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, and water vapor, are released into the atmosphere and trap the sun's heat, they warm the average global temperature, causing it to rise. This is referred to as global warming.
Infrared radiation should escape into space, but instead becomes trapped in our atmosphere and warms the planet.Carbon emissions are a type of greenhouse gas emissions that occur when carbon dioxide enters the atmosphere as a result of a human activity or process. They are critical to this discussion because they account for the majority of emissions in terms of quantity.
What Impact Do Carbon Emissions Have on the Environment?
Carbon emissions have a significant impact on the planet because they are the greenhouse gas with the highest levels of emissions in the atmosphere. This, of course, contributes to global warming and, eventually, climate change.
CO2 and other greenhouse gases are beneficial—to an extent. However, CO2 is so effective at retaining heat from the Sun that even a small increase in CO2 in the atmosphere can cause Earth to warm even more.
Throughout Earth's history, whenever the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased, so has the temperature. And as the temperature rises, so does the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.
When fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas, and oil are burned, carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. However, burning other biological materials such as solid waste, trees, and so on emits carbon dioxide.
When large amounts of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere, especially if they remain in the atmosphere for thousands of years, they have an impact on the planet.
Water Supply Shortages
Because carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for 50 to 200 years, current emissions will continue to warm the climate in the future.
According to the EPA, climate change will increase water demand while decreasing water supply. Water is required not only for human health, but also for manufacturing processes, as well as the production of energy and food. Climate change is expected to increase rainfall in some areas, increasing the amount of sediment and pollutants washed into drinking water supplies. As sea levels rise, saltwater will infiltrate some freshwater systems, increasing the demand for desalination and drinking water treatment.
Severe weather is becoming more common
According to NASA, global warming has the potential to cause more wildfires, droughts, and tropical storms. During 2012, catastrophic weather events caused $1 billion in damage in the United States. Storms like Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 are becoming more common, and the devastation they cause takes years to repair, often with the assistance of international aid. The destruction of infrastructure causes a number of human health issues, including disease transmission when water and sewer systems fail. Storms and the damage they cause to infrastructure frequently result in a massive loss of human life.
Food Supply Changes
The agricultural industry and the human food supply are both impacted by changing weather patterns. Carbon emissions contribute to rising temperatures and decreased precipitation, altering the growing conditions for many food crops. Food prices will rise around the world as crop yields change dramatically. Furthermore, as the climate warms due to carbon emissions, animals, many of which are hunted for food, migrate to higher altitudes or northern habitats.
Changes in Geography
It only takes a small change in temperature to have a large environmental impact; temperatures at the end of the last ice age were only 2.5 to 5 degrees Celsius cooler than today's temperatures. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that carbon emissions will cause global temperatures to rise by 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.5 degrees Fahrenheit) over the next 100 years. This minor change can have dramatic consequences for shorelines, particularly in densely populated areas where rising sea levels flood buildings and roads and disrupt shipping traffic. According to the EPA, sea levels on the mid-Atlantic and Gulf Coasts have risen by more than 20 centimeters (8 inches) in just 50 years, following nearly 2,000 years of no discernible change.