The effects of global warming are evident in our everyday lives. More and more people are affected by the adverse environmental conditions created by this phenomenon. However, there is much confusion on what we must actually do in order to face this problem. Social, political and economic reasons intertwine and make solving this issue quite difficult.
Even if we stopped producing greenhouse gases today, the earth would still heat up at least one degree Fahrenheit. But the decisions we make from now on can have a dramatic impact on the temperature rise in the future. Depending on our actions the earth’s temperature can rise from 2.5 degrees to 10 degrees in the following years.
A commonly accepted goal is to stabilize the greenhouse gases at 550 parts per million (ppm). This is the threshold before which the most damaging effects of global warming could be avoided. Current concentrations are at about 380 ppm and rising. This means that we have to act fast if we want to prevent mass global warming.
Many countries are trying really hard to cut on their greenhouse emissions but there is still much to be done. A widespread approach proposed by the researchers Stephen Pacala and Robert Socolow from Princeton University is called “stabilization wedges”. This approach suggests that we could try to reduce the greenhouse gases by doing small changes in different sectors rather than focusing on making major changes in one single sector. They propose seven wedges that can be used to reduce greenhouse emissions.
These wedges include working on energy efficiency, improving vehicle fuel economy, investing in solar and wind power, and producing energy from hydrogen, biofuels and natural gas. Another possible solution is “carbon sequestration”, which involves the capturing and storing of CO2 underground so that it doesn’t pollute the atmosphere.
As well as reducing the greenhouse emissions we can also increase their absorption. Plants and trees absorb CO2 naturally as they grow during the process of photosynthesis. In this way by planting more trees and reducing deforestation we can have an additional way for fighting climate change.
None of these solutions is perfect and they all have their drawbacks. Each country has to make its own decisions about how to protect the environment while at the same time ensuring a high quality of living. The good news is that there are applicable solutions for reducing the impact of global warming. If we all work close, we can ensure a viable future for the planet.
Which do you think are the possible solutions for the greenhouse effect? Let me know in the comments below.
Photo by Frits Ahlefeldt