Photo by: Daniella Golden
This post is a collaboration with University of Kent students. The opinions in this piece are those of our guest blogger and do not necessarily represent those held by Sustainability Connections.
Guest blog by: Charlie Harteley
Carbon Footprints: Why They Matter
Do you drive every day, get regular deliveries and recycle every now-and-then? Then, I’m sorry to say – you have a rather large carbon footprint for an individual. A carbon footprint is how much carbon dioxide (CO2) is ‘emitted due to your daily activities’, and as we all know: carbon dioxide is very bad for the environment due to its role as a greenhouse gas. It is a leading cause of global warming and climate change due to its accumulation in the atmosphere. With its ability to hold onto heat, CO2 is gradually warming the globe to unprecedented levels. The consequences of this are devastating and concurrent with our rising sea levels and mass extinctions (talkabouttrees.org). We need to do something, and quickly.
As of 2017, we have seen rising global temperatures, shifting rainfall which is affecting plant life, and complete destruction of delicate ecosystems. All of this is because of our increasing carbon footprint – and not enough is being done to combat this. Not only does carbon dioxide damage the world around us, but it is also affecting our health. Women who are working in the agricultural sector, and children are the most at risk of adverse effects. The WHO has predicted that as climate change worsens, the percentage of Malians suffering from hunger will increase ‘from 34% to at least 64%’ in 40 years’ time. This is due to climate change impacting food crops via drought, and Mali will not be the only country affected.
What’s the impact on people?
Drought also comes comorbidly with diseases such as cholera and malaria. Insect-carried diseases that once only affected the tropics suddenly can survive well above and below the equator due to an increase in temperature that they thrive in – malaria in the UK is becoming a terrifyingly real possibility. Not only are we risking our health through these diseases, air pollution is causing ‘an increase in respiratory problems such as asthma and allergies’. In a way, we are slowly suffocating ourselves in carbon dioxide. But, we still have the chance to change and reverse this (livestrong.com).
What can we do?
To undo the damage already done we can reduce our use of carbon dioxide and in turn, our carbon footprint. This can be done by becoming more sustainable, and becoming less reliant on materials which create carbon dioxide in their production process, such as plastic and fossil fuels (talkabouttrees.org).
Using less water and wasting less are also ways to reduce your carbon footprint, as well as using less energy at home. This can be achieved by turning things off (such as lights) when we don’t need them. It's a small act that goes a long way. And saves money too. We can also drive less and use more public transport, grow our own veg, and use businesses that actively try and reduce their own carbon footprints to aid the environment.
We only have one world, and something’s wrong with it, but if everyone does their best to reduce their carbon emissions, we can save it. I challenge you to start today and make a difference.
Stephanie Karpetas works with communities, businesses and public sector organisations, helping shape and deliver programmes that make sustainable development feasible and fun. Stephanie has recently set up Sustainability Connections CIC and is working on low carbon projects in Kent and Europe. She is a Co-founder and Director of Action Women! Community CIC