These days, we hear a lot about the effect our technology is having on the planet. Human activities raise the amount of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere, causing global warming, which has many negative effects on the planet’s systems, such as the melting of the polar ice-caps. When we use fossil fuels in our cars or homes or buy something that has been created using fossil fuels, we add to our own carbon footprint. Whilst it’s not possible to live without causing any carbon emissions, there are ways to mitigate any negative effects by offsetting your carbon footprint.
One of the most common ways in which people choose to offset their carbon footprint is by contributing to changes in the way land is used. For example, by planting, re-planting or repairing woodland, the amount of carbon dioxide is reduced because it is absorbed by the trees, but also, the land will not be used in any way that is likely to cause carbon dioxide production. Offsetting companies arrange planting via donations from the public or companies who are specifically trying to offset their carbon footprints.
Contribute to meadowland
Soil absorbs and traps carbon. Consequently, the increase of meadowland affects the amount of carbon neutralised by the soil. Although forests also absorb the carbon in this way, it tends to remain contained for even longer when in a meadow or grassland, because much of the carbon would be released if a tree were to be felled. Not many of us have space to plant a meadow, but growing grass rather than laying paving or decking would help.
Support renewable energy
One popular way of offsetting the carbon footprint is to invest in renewable energy. Offsetting companies have schemes whereby they can replace technology that is inefficient with comparable products that use some renewable element to lower or eliminate the use of fossil fuels. An example of this might be the use of geothermal energy to heat a house. As well as funding these projects, you could have this kind of technology fitted in your own house, which would provide you with cheap energy supply as well as making your lifestyle more carbon neutral.
Promote the collection of methane
One of the most prevalent greenhouse gases is methane. This is produced during the process of breaking down biological matter, such as in the digestive system of animals and in the anaerobic biodegradation of waste. It is, however, also useful when harnessed, as it can be used to fuel turbines or boilers and gives off less carbon dioxide than other hydrocarbon fuels. For this reason, many people choose to offset by contributing to the development of methane harvesting and use, such as via waste processing plants.
Dealing with pollutants
Many substances used in industry are heavily toxic. Gases such as hydro fluorocarbons contribute heavily to global warming, yet if they are prevented from entering the atmosphere, they can be destroyed relatively easily. This involves constructing systems to capture the gases and channel them to a container in which they can be neutralised. Because this process is easy to set up, it is one of the most commonly-used methods of offsetting.
Although offsetting is becoming more popular, particularly as it has the support of some high profile people including Coldplay, who have produced carbon neutral albums, it is in some ways a luxury. By taking all possible steps to reduce your carbon footprint, if you should still feel the need to proceed with offsetting, at least there will be less to offset.