How does global warming happen?
The burning of fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal for homes and cars emit harmful carbon dioxide that finds its way into the atmosphere.
The odorless invisible byproduct helps trap heat that results in the greenhouse effect which, in turn, helps to power worldwide global warming.
How can we take personal steps to stop it?
If you're concerned about the drastic changes in climate that the use of fossil fuels have wrought - in more frequent and violent storms, prolonged summer heat waves, and other atmospheric phenomena - there are steps that can be taken to help reduce your own carbon footprint.
That is, by helping to reduce the demand for fossil fuels.
Here are 10 simple ways you can take to help conserve energy, reduce global warming, and put extra money in your pocket at the same time:
1. Learn how to save on heat & energy bills.
Add insulation to your walls and attic, and install weather stripping or caulking around doors and windows. Only run the heat or air conditioning when you really need it. Install a programmable thermostat which automatically lowers heating or cooling when you’re not at home. Further save on your electrical bill by buying only major appliances that feature the "Energy Star" sticker.
2. Replace regular light bulbs with compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs. Those spiral-shaped bulbs known as compact fluorescents use less than a third of the energy of regular bulbs and last ten times longer.
3. Less driving means less air pollution, fewer carbon emissions and, on a more practical level, money savings on gasoline. Check out local carpools, mass transit, or bike paths in your neighborhood and whenever possible use them to get to work (think about how much you'll save on parking.)
4. Recycle paper, plastics, glass and aluminum whenever possible, and buy eco-friendly products made from recyclables. Cut down on your use of plastic bags by carrying a reusable canvas grocery bag.
5. Further reduce your reliance on oil by switching from detergents, petroleum jelly, shoe polishes and even oil-based cosmetics to use alternatives to petroleum-based products.
6. Shop local to reduce the amount of carbon released by truck transports cross-country. Buy from shops that offer locally made products or crafts. Visit neighborhood green markets, and where practical consider growing your own food by starting a backyard vegetable garden.
7. Plan make-ahead meals that freeze well. "Cook once, eat twice."
8. Plant a tree. Planting trees is one of the easiest ways to offset your carbon footprint and become carbon neutral. Trees absorb carbon dioxide to produce oxygen and provide habitats for birds and small animals.
9. Join a freecycle group.
10. Teach your family the value of conservation by encouraging children to participate in fun kids go-green projects.