Man also generates CO₂ by breathing, on burning oxygen and generating the energy our organism needs. Plants on the other hand work the other way round, they fix carbon and give off oxygen. The atmosphere maintains its balance with these exchanges. Out of curiosity, if you froze all the CO₂ that mankind expels in one year, you would need the equivalent of a train from Earth to the moon to fill the carriages. However this figure is not worrying, because the oceans, forests and the ground remove this CO₂ in order to subsist. This natural mechanism which absorbs the carbon is referred to as carbon sump.
How can we each clean up our atmosphere?
- Choose local food and products. Ensure they are seasonal which are healthier and tastier. This helps to avoid energy consumption that transport of goods generates all over the world.
- Use public transport or car-sharing. A 1,200km trip generates the same CO₂ as a round-the-world train trip.
- Look for ecological products which do not harm the atmosphere and those which have a flower symbol for detergents, toilet paper, televisions, shoes, paints, etc.
- Use a bicycle for short distances.
Facts and figures:
- But what are a problem are the excess gases produced by the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) which mean 75% of CO₂ emissions. We have to bear in mind that since the 19th century our energy use is twelve or fourteen times more than it was.
- Tree-felling contributes 20%.
- Every 5000km a car emits approximately a ton of CO₂. In order to be able to visualize this quantity, imagine that approximately a ton will fit in a 10m wide, 25m long, 2m deep swimming pool.
- Methane, another greenhouse effect gas: 27% from fossil fuels, 23% from livestock, 17% from rice growing, 16% from rubbish and sewerage, 11% from the burning of biomass and 6% from animal excrement.