What is Carbon Dioxide?
Carbon Dioxide is a naturally occurring gas crucial to life, but also the main 'greenhouse gas' contributing to Global Warming. Its build up causes rising temperatures, and will have a profound effect on wildlife and people worldwide.
Doesn't 'Global Warming' just mean better weather?
If only it were true! In reality what's happening is best described as 'climate change'. Yes, we might get the odd heat wave but most experts believe that our weather will become really unpredictable with more storms and droughts. Some scientists are also warning that the British Isles might lose the benefit of the Gulf Stream, resulting in extremely cold winters. Rising sea levels, caused by polar ice melting, already means that some insurance companies are refusing to cover low-lying areas. Costal areas are likely to suffer more frequent flooding.
Isn't this just more doom and gloom from the Greens
Nobody can be specific about the real impact of Global Warming. However there is growing scientific consensus that this is a very real and serious problem. Some predictions indicate that in just 35 years costal towns such as Newhaven, Colchester and Milford Haven can expect serious flooding once or twice every five years.
How will it affect the rest of the world?
Global Warming could cause sea levels to rise by 1.5 metres within the next 100 years. This may not sound much but it will have a devastating effect on Indian Ocean islands such as the Maldives, which stand less than one metre above the sea. Unless the situation is changed, the islands' 60,000 inhabitants, the plants and animals will have to find a new home. Can you imagine the millions of people in low-lying Bangladesh who will be in a similar situation?
People will suffer in other areas. Warmer and drier conditions will cause more droughts in many African countries.
But what does all this have to do with me?
To supply us with the energy we need to heat and light our homes, run our cars and power our planes we are burning an ever-increasing amount of fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil. This process creates Carbon Dioxide, which is leading to global climate change.
But isn't this all industry's fault?
Obviously industry has a major role to play but households produce 25% of our national Carbon Dioxide emissions. Any real change starts with individuals and you are not alone! A growing number of people are starting to use the Carbon Calculator. And don't forget, industry depends on its customers for survival so your opinions and choices matter greatly to them.
So what is the government doing about this problem?
The UK Government in the Climate Change Act of 2008 has set a domestic target to reduce Carbon Dioxide emissions by 80% by the year 2050. At Kyoto, in Japan, they also signed an international and legally binding agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 12.5% below the 1990 levels by 2008-2012.
What this means to you and me is that we will see more legislation making it more expensive to produce Carbon Dioxide. Ever-increasing taxes on petrol and the reduction in road tax for small cars are examples of this policy. More will follow, so cutting Carbon Dioxide emissions will save you an increasing amount of money as well as protecting the environment.