Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

What Can I Do About Global Warming?


Hydrogen-powered cars, the increased use of solar cells, and hydro-electric power plants are possible ways to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.
Hydrogen-powered cars, the increased use of solar cells, and hydro-electric power plants are possible ways to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.
Photo courtesy BMW AG, Munich, Germany; DOE/NREL; SunLine Transit Agency

Basically, it all boils down to this: Don't use as much of the stuff that creates greenhouse gases. On a local level, you can help by using less energy. The electricity that operates many of the devices in our homes comes from a power plant, and most power plants burn fossil fuels to generate that power. Turn off lights when they're not in use. Take shorter showers to use less hot water. Use a fan instead of an air conditioner on a warm day.

Here are some other specific ways you can help decrease greenhouse-gas emissions:

  • Make sure your car is properly tuned up. This allows it to run more efficiently and generated fewer harmful gases.
  • Walk or ride a bike when you can. Driving your car generates more greenhouse gases than almost anything else you do.
  • Turn lights and other appliances off when you're not using them. Even though a light bulb doesn't generate greenhouse gas, the power plant that generates the electricity used by the light bulb probably does.
  • Recycle. Garbage that doesn't get recycled ends up in a landfill, generating methane; plus, recycled goods require less energy to produce than products made from scratch.
  • Plant trees and other plant life where you can. Plants take carbon dioxide out of the air and release oxygen.
  • Don't burn garbage. This releases carbon dioxide and hydrocarbons into the atmosphere.

Cars burn fossil fuel, so smaller, more fuel-efficient cars emit less CO 2, particularly hybrid cars. Walk or ride your bike if possible, or car pool on your way to work.

To really stem the emission of greenhouse gases, we need to develop non-fossil fuel energy sources. Hydro-electric power, solar power, hydrogen engines and fuel cells could all create big cuts in greenhouse gases if they were to become more common.

At the international level, the Kyoto treaty was written to reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Thirty-five industrialized nations have committed to reducing their output of those gases to varying degrees. Unfortunately, the United States, the world's primary producer of greenhouse gases, did not sign the treaty.

For more information on global warming and related topics, check out How Global Warming Works.

Here are some interesting links: