Increasing carbon dioxide levels and the associated increase in global temperature are likely to have serious consequences for the Earth and its inhabitants if left unchecked, such as:
Certain measures can be taken to try to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
There are many ways that governments, businesses and individuals can reduce the use of fossil fuels.
Large areas of rainforest have been cut down in recent years. As plants naturally remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen, it makes sense to plant more trees to try to make up for this loss. However, it is proving difficult to replant every tree that is lost and we are still losing almost 200,000 square kilometres of forested land every year.
It is possible to remove some of the harmful emissions from burning fossil fuels before they escape into the atmosphere, although it is only possible to do this effectively for large scale emissions such as those from power plants.
The most common form of this is known as carbon capture. This involves capturing the carbon dioxide from the waste gases (usually by dissolving the carbon dioxide in a special solvent) and then transporting it to a secure storage site such as depleted oil and gas fields where it can be left indefinitely.
There are also techniques in use that can remove sulfur dioxide from waste gases in order to reduce acid rain. These techniques are referred to as sulfur scrubbing and can remove more than 95 per cent of sulfur dioxide from waste gases.