Can Anything Be Done to Stop Global Warming?
No matter what we do now, global warming will continue and will cause serious changes in our climate. However, prompt and dramatic action is likely to slow its rate of increase and to avoid some of the worst potential consequences. Experts say the most important action is to move away from burning massive amounts of fossil fuels, especially coal and oil, and to aggressively pursue nonpolluting energy options.
Every time we burn fossil fuels to drive our cars, heat our homes, run our factories, light our cities, and more, we release carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Our greenhouse gas emissions have increased in recent decades because of both human population growth and the rising rates of affluence and consumption. Larger houses, bigger and faster cars and SUVs and more airplane travel all mean more energy consumption. In fact, the United States, with only about 5% of the global population, contributes about 25 percent of greenhouse gas emissions because our fuel consumption is so high.
Some scientists are also studying another strategy called carbon sequestration. Earth's plants, soils, and oceans absorb huge amounts of carbon dioxide. Some scientists believe that we can augment these so-called "ecosystem services". We can protect and improve natural resources such as tropical forests that absorb large amounts of carbon. We may even be able to inject excess carbon dioxide deep into the Earth.