Ways to Reduce the Greenhouse Effect

By Gregory Hamel
Smog settles over an industrial park.

The greenhouse effect is the increase in global temperatures which result from greenhouse gases trapping solar heat energy in the atmosphere. It is believed by many experts to be the primary cause of global warming. Greenhouse gases include substances, such as CO2, nitrous oxide, methane and carbon monoxide. Reducing the greenhouse effect can be achieved by taking steps to limit the emissions of greenhouse gases.

Energy Consumption

Downtown Los Angeles is  barely visible though a thick layer of pollution.

One of the best ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is to limit energy consumption. Using energy in many of its forms comes with the negative externality of releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. For instance, electricity is commonly produced by coal power plants which burn goal and release CO2 into the air. Limiting the use of devices which use fossil fuels for energy is especially important--cars, lawn mowers, chainsaws, and other gasoline and diesel powered devices account for a large portion of the greenhouse gasses emitted by humans. Finding clean energy alternatives is a good way to limit the greenhouse effect while still getting the energy you need. Efficient hybrid cars and green electricity sources, such as solar and wind power, help reduce greenhouse emissions.

Limit Waste

Recycling bins sit outside two homes.

Wasteful and needless consumption contributes greatly to the release of greenhouse gases. Every physical product that you use--magazines, boxes, food products, toys--requires energy to produce and for disposal. Buying fewer needless products will limit the demand for those products and put downward pressure on the energy use and subsequent greenhouse gas emissions associated with their production. Whenever possible seek green alternatives for the things you want. For instance, instead of getting a magazine subscription, you might be able to sign up for an online subscription, forgoing the need to produce paper. Also, avoid using aerosol products with pressurized gases like canned air, as these products tend to release large amounts of greenhouse gases into the air.

Plant Trees

A man digs a hole to plant a tree on a rooftop urban garden.

Another way to reduce the greenhouse effect is to plant trees and other plants. As a part of their natural life cycle, plants absorb CO2 from for photosynthesis, a process where the plant derives energy from the sun. Since CO2 is a greenhouse gas, the more trees and other plants that are around drawing in CO2, the greater the reduction in the greenhouse effect will be. Another advantage of planting trees is that they can result in energy savings. A large tree which provides shade to a home during hot summer months can result in less need for air conditioning, an amenity that requires a relatively large amount of electricity.

About the Author

Gregory Hamel has been a writer since September 2008 and has also authored three novels. He has a Bachelor of Arts in economics from St. Olaf College. Hamel maintains a blog focused on massive open online courses and computer programming.