Earth’s atmosphere is thin, but it serves the critical purpose of protecting all life on the planet from intense solar heat to radiation.
Today, that thin buffer is in danger due to the build-up of gases in the atmosphere that trap solar heat, causing dramatic and unpredictable changes in weather worldwide.
The harmful gases are called “greenhouse gases”, and they come mostly from the burning of fossil fuels, such as oil, gas and coal. Scientists agree that the build-up of the gases has been caused by 20th century industrialization, which has exaggerated all earlier and natural cyclically global temperature fluctuations. This build- up has thrown off the balance of gases in the atmosphere.
The most common of the greenhouse gases is carbon dioxide (CO2). Reducing CO2 emissions can be difficult without an urgent transition to alternative energy, such as solar and wind. This energy transition from “high carbon” to “low carbon” is underway worldwide, but is slow, since fossil fuels are still the base to many economies.
In the meantime, we can help restore carbon balance through “offsets”, which means the planting and maintenance of forests and other plants that can absorb CO2.