A Green Earth
Global warming is defined as:
a gradual increase in the overall temperature of the earth's atmosphere generally attributed to the greenhouse effect caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons, and other pollutants.
The Lesser Known Correlation between Recycling and Climate Change
BY Anne Staley
The products we use in our daily lives impact the climate at every stage of their lifecycle.
If you’re wondering how human consumption has an impact on the climate, there’s a one-word answer for it – energy. All the activities related to consumption whether it’s manufacturing, distribution, or the management of the resulting waste, require energy.
Where does this energy come from? It mostly comes from fossil fuels, which are universally acknowledged as the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).
According to a 2009 study conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), these heat-trapping greenhouse gases are the primary reason for global climate change and the rate and magnitude of human-induced climate change will continue to worsen over time in the absence of any regulatory action.
What we’re staring ahead at are more extreme weather phenomena like floods, heat waves, storms, and other climatic catastrophes.
Climate change & Consumption: ticking time bomb
Circling back to the point that human consumption has a huge impact on climate change, the EPA report indicates that as much as 42 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. result from the energy used for the production, processing, transportation, and disposal of the goods we use (29 percent) and the food we eat (13 percent).
The other major contributors are passenger transport, HVAC & lighting, and appliances and devices. Traditional waste management systems, which include landfilling, incineration, etc., account for 1 to 5 percent of America’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Given this fact, it should hardly come as a surprise that landfilling features last on EPA’s list of preferred waste management methods after reuse, recycle/compost, and energy recovery.
Recycling & climate change: The lesser known truth
According to the EPA, increasing the national recycling rate to 35 percent would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 9.8 MMTCE. Clearly, there is a definite correlation between recycling and climate change, and the sooner we realize it, the better it is for our planet!
Image credits: Emily Dodd, epSos.de, courtesy flickr
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