Many people know the term carbon footprint, but don’t know what it truly means. A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases that are generated by our actions. The six main greenhouses are currently carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocar- bons (PFCs), sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), and nitrogen triflouride (NF3).The average carbon footprint is around 4 tons, but in the United States the average is closer to 16 tons, almost 4 times the amount of the world's average. With the best interests of the planet in mind, we need to get our average carbon footprint to drop below two tons by 2050, helping prevent a 2°C temperature rise. If the temperature ends up rising, it can have disastrous effects on the planet. This includes flooding, extreme heat waves, large droughts, loss of many different species of animals, and much, much, more.
Interestingly enough, the greenhouse effect, which is the name for the process where greenhouses gases come into effect, is actually normal. When the sun's energy and heat reaches the Earth's atmosphere, some of it is reflected and goes back into space. The rest is absorbed by the land and water. Some of the heat radiating back out into space, then gets trapped by greenhouse gases. This process helps keep the planet's climate controlled. Nowadays though, humans have created so many different ways to create extra greenhouse gas that it’s trapping too much heat, therefore messing up our planet's delicately balanced climate system. The largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States is from burning fossil fuels for electricity, heat and transportation, and so there are many ways to try and lessen your carbon footprint. The easiest ways are by just remembering to turn your lights off when they are not needed, using your car less, and walking or riding the bus instead. Manufacturing and construction, in addition to many different types of factories, are also large contributors to a large carbon footprint. You can find many other ways to help lower your carbon footprint and learn more about it by just doing a quick google search, and finding a trustworthy source that can answer all of your unanswered questions. You can also calculate your own carbon footprint, on your own or with assistance from one of the many websites that offer a carbon footprint calculator, so that you may find out how much you need to do to help.