Well, you know that a ‘footprint’ is a mark that you leave behind while stepping on the earth. It is easy to see footprints in the sand. It is much more difficult to see them in water or on a clean, smooth surface like glass. Just because you can’t see something though, doesn’t mean it isn’t there!
Your ‘carbon footprint’ is the amount of carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere as a result of your activities. You know that you breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. Your other actions also lead to the release of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere: for example, when you get food at home, it has been farmed, transported to the market and then brought home in the car. All this movement uses different forms of energy and fuel. As the energy burns, gases such as carbon dioxide are ‘emitted’ or ‘released’ into the atmosphere. The toys you buy have also been made in a factory. Factories ‘emit’ carbon dioxide.
Carbon dioxide is what is known as a greenhouse gas (GHG). GHGs produce heat and raise the temperature of the planet. Raising the temperature on the planet is what is known as ‘Global Warming’. This leads to changes in weather patterns, which can cause droughts and a shortage of food. It can also cause the melting of glaciers, which leads to a rise in sea levels. This is why people say that if the sea levels continue to rise at the same pace, many islands (like the Maldives) may be underwater by the end of this century!
You can reduce your carbon footprint by: walking or car pooling instead of using your own car everywhere you go, and by recycling and reusing things so that not as many need to be made.
Here’s a short animation to help you understand it better: