Although a few misguided politicians may have committed a faux pas when they attempted to link global warming to the tragedies in Oklahoma, the incidents have spurred more discussion about the impact global warming has had on our weather patterns and what human activities have contributed to the overall warming of the world. While there has been much debate over whether or not extreme weather is caused by global warming, most scientists agree that human activity has played a part in global warming to some extent.
In the Fourth Assessment Report, which was an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the 1300 scientific experts who took part in the panel concluded that there was a ninety percent chance that human beings have caused global warming in some respect. Although the warming of our planet has been caused by many factors, human activity has played in a part in the release of many greenhouse gases. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the hidden human activities that may be contributing to global warming in way or another.
- The Way We Eat: All someone has to do is take a look at the documentary, Food Inc. or read Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer to understand that industrial agriculture is not a sustainable way to feed the world. Human beings have increased atmospheric CO2 concentration by a third since the 1800s, according to the Fourth Assessment Report, and a major part of this is because of industrial agriculture and livestock production. In a study reported in Environmental Research Letters, the developed world needs to eat 50% less meat by 2050 to negate the consequences of future climate change. Nitrous oxide and methane are produced from commercial and organic fertilizers as well as animal manure. Both are big contributors to global warming. In addition, think about the way we get our food. Food is often shipped thousands of miles, releasing CO2 in the air.
- The Way We Print: The next time you throw out your laser ink jet printer cartridge, you might want to rethink your strategy. While you might not think it, laser ink jet printer cartridges cause a significant amount of greenhouse gases to be released into the atmosphere. Let’s take a look at one recycling initiative to get a better idea of the importance of proper ink jet cartridge disposal. Did you know that one company, Micro Solutions Enterprises, recycled over two million cartridges last year? In addition, they also recycled other materials associated with ink jet cartridges, including cardboard, paper and aluminum. This initiative saved over 2,112 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gas emissions. Of course, the question is so what? Well, this number is the equivalent of over 236,000 gallons of gas and nearly 5,000 barrels of oil consumed.
What you eat and how you use simple devices might not seem like big contributors to global warming, but these numbers indicate that we have to rethink how we go about our day and how that affects our relationship with our planet. What are some ways you’re contributing to a greener planet?