OK, you’ve heard this before: the planet is warming, weather is changing, glaciers are melting, seas are rising…a little scary.
The “enemy” is too much carbon dioxide in the air. Whose fault is it? Ours of course. Every day human lifestyles add excess CO2 to earth’s atmosphere and there it stays, steadily heating the planet. Are we (supposedly intelligent) humans doing anything about this? Actually, there may be hope.
Time was, the balance of various gasses contained in that thin envelope of air enfolding our planet were in balance; there was less carbon dioxide. Then came planes, trains, automobiles and other things we humans can’t live without now. Too bad, because these luxuries are largely responsible for most of that excess CO2. It’s easy to get discouraged when all we hear is negative, and it seems there are no solutions. But good news may be on the way.
Around the globe today, people are researching solutions. Some of their fixes seem odd, but who knows? For example, Swiss scientists are trying to send excess CO2 underground, and some experts in Iceland have found a way to capture CO2 and inject it into rocks…can’t be easy. Other suggested tactics: making yoga mats, watches and concrete from the stuff. But if these work, why not?
Rest assured that more weighty solutions are also in the works. Starting in 2021, our own state government and those of six other states will begin aiming toward 100% clean natural energy. Colorado wants to reduce carbon emissions by half within 10 years, and 90% by 2050. Oregon and Virginia are working to cut pollution from power plants and other sources. Others, like California, are pushing the use of clean electric vehicles (including trucks and buses) and establishing enough charging stations to meet future demand. Meanwhile, Hawaii is encouraging rooftop solar power, and many mainland cities plan to do the same.
What about you and me? Can we help? For one thing, folks with property can plant more trees; plants actively “inhale” CO2 and hold onto it (a process called “carbon sequestration”), thus helping to reduce the excess gas from our atmosphere.
For humans, it’s a simple goal: pumping less carbon dioxide into the air to eventually restore the natural balance, for the sake of all life on earth. You can bet our children and theirs will appreciate our efforts. After all, this is the only home we have.
Nancy Sefton is a journalist who has written about the environment for years. She writes a monthly column for this newspaper.