Peter Lowes: How to Lower your Carbon Footprint
A Handy List of Five Easy Steps Any Person Can Take to Reduce Their Negative Impact on the Planet
The scientific consensus is in: Earth’s climate is changing, and it is getting warmer. If current trends continue, the consequences of unchecked global warming will manifest in everything from an increased frequency of extreme weather events such as hurricanes and floods to much longer wildfire seasons and wide-scale crop failures. Indeed, geologists and climatologists the world over are sounding alarms that this is already taking place. So, what can be done? The first step is acknowledging the source of the problem. Since the industrial revolution began two and a half centuries ago, the temperature of the planet has steadily increased at a far steeper rate than occurs naturally. That is not a coincidence. That is the era in history when human activities such as the heavy usage of fossil fuels and factory farming began in earnest, trapping huge quantities of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. Although there are still some holdouts in the scientific community that refuse to admit human activities are the root cause of global warming — most accept that a correlation exists. That is to say, if ninety-nine percent of scientists agree that human activities are to blame for climate change, the other one percent believes that human activities, while not being the ultimate cause, are at least aggravating the situation.
With more than seven billion human beings currently inhabiting this planet, it is imperative that every individual do their part to reduce carbon emissions. But what are the most effective changes a person can make to accomplish that goal? What are the best ways for an individual to lower their carbon footprint? Peter Lowes the founder of Teaching Environmental Awareness (TEA) provides a handy list of five easy ways to do so.
1) Adopt Environmentally-Conscious Eating Habits
According to some estimates, the cultivation of livestock for dairy and meat products is responsible for upwards of fifteen percent of man-made greenhouse emissions. That figure takes into account the production of feed, as well as the methane released by the livestock itself — which, incidentally, is twenty-five times more potent in trapping heat in the atmosphere compared with carbon dioxide. With all these facts in mind, scaling back global demand for meat and dairy products would be very beneficial for the planet. By adopting a primarily plant-based diet incorporating more fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes — locally-sourced,. ideally — any individual can do their part in reducing carbon emissions.
2) Rethink Personal Transportation
Another major offender in the release of greenhouse gasses are motor vehicles. If a person who owns and operates a fossil fuel-burning vehicle wishes to reduce their carbon footprint, it would serve them well to rethink transportation. If bicycling or walking to a destination isn’t feasible, using public transportation like bus or subway systems to get from point A to point B will significantly reduce a person’s negative impact on the environment. Of course, these days, personal electric vehicles are an environmentally-friendly option open to those with the wherewithal to procure one.
3) Reduce Power Consumption
According to Peter Lowes, it’s not difficult to understand how a reduction in power consumption directly results in a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The more energy a power plant needs to generate to keep a grid humming, the more fossil fuels need to be burnt — excluding hydroelectric, nuclear, wind, and solar plants, of course. Some useful tips for those seeking to lower their power consumption include installing LED lights, sealing heating and cooling ducts, augmenting insulation in attics, and adding weatherstripping to all doors and windows. Implementing these changes will reduce any person’s carbon footprint and, as an added side benefit, will lower their monthly utility bill!
4) Minimize Household Waste
This is perhaps the easiest of the five steps on the list. With a conscientious effort to recycle plastic, paper, and metal, combined with a diligent regimen of composting, the amount of waste a household products can be very effectively minimized. Landfills and waste transfer stations are a leading cause of greenhouse gasses, so the less garbage an individual produces, the better.
5) Actively Work to Repair the Environment
Reducing one’s overall carbon footprint isn’t only about curbing consumption. Proactive measures can be taken to offset any damage an individual’s lifestyle might have on the environment. The best way to do this is working to increase the amount of carbon dioxide consuming plant life on the planet. Simply by rolling up their sleeves and planting a tree or two, cultivating a home garden, or helping to restore a natural wetland, anyone with the inclination can do their part in reducing greenhouse gasses.
By taking these five easy steps to heart, any person can drastically lower their carbon footprint. Who knows? If enough people commit to similarly altering their lifestyles, it may be possible to reverse some of the damage human beings have already done to the biosphere called Earth.