Carbon Footprint Explained


Some important terms:

  • Greenhouse effect: It is a natural phenomenon that increases the surface temperature of the Earth by trapping heat in the atmosphere

  • Greenhouse gases(GHG’s): The gases responsible for the greenhouse effect are called greenhouse gases

For example: Carbon dioxide, Methane,CFCs(Chlorofluorocarbons), nitrous oxide etc.

  • Global warming: Global warming is the long-term heating of the earth’s atmosphere.

  • Atmosphere:  A blanket of gases or gas layer surrounding the planet

  • CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons): Chlorofluorocarbons are non-flammable compounds containing carbon, fluorine, and chlorine.

  • Ozone layer: It is a layer of air having a large concentration of ozone in the stratosphere around 15 to 30 km above the earth’s surface.:

  • Ultraviolet (UV)rays: It is a form of electromagnetic radiation having wavelengths in the range of 10 nm to 400 nm(nanometer i.e. 10-9)

  • Famine: It is an extreme scarcity of food.


Carbon footprint is the number of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere from human activities or industries. With overpopulation being a big issue in the current world there is a lot of greenhouse gases emission from different sources. Greenhouse gases are emitted from different industries and factories, burning of fossil fuels, from air-conditioners in the form of CFCs, from vehicles using petrol and diesel, mining and quarrying, etc. Due to the increasing population, there is more urbanization and industrialization. Urbanization and industrialization have created opportunities for many people on one hand while due to many people moving to cities for opportunities there is more requirement of space for the construction of buildings, roads, infrastructure, etc. For all these constructions there is deforestation to expand the area for construction. Deforestation is the biggest concern for the environment.


With more and more deforestation, increasing industrialization, and urbanization there is an increase in the emission of greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases trap the harmful Ultraviolet rays and increase the temperature of the earth’s atmosphere. Generally, the ozone layer present above the troposphere of the earth is responsible for reflecting back the harmful ultraviolet rays from the Sun. But the greenhouse gases trap the ultraviolet rays. Ultraviolet rays are a threat to all forms of life. Ultraviolet can cause skin cancer to human beings. UV rays are the biggest to marine life. UV rays. UV rays kill fishes and other aquatic life forms. Due to an increase in the temperature of the atmosphere, it can change the climate patterns. Due to changes in climate patterns, the crop production yield will also be affected. Additionally, the increase in temperature can cause forest fires and conditions like drought and flood. Worldwide annually a large number of people die in floods and drought. Many people lose their loved ones.


The forest fire again adds to the large amounts of pollutants into the atmosphere as the burning of wood emits large amounts of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide reacts with the hemoglobin present in the blood and forms Carboxyhemoglobin. Carboxyhaemoglobin is a stable compound meaning the reaction is difficult to reverse. This formation blocks the supply of oxygen to tissues resulting in suffocation. If immediate treatment is not given to such a person or animal it will eventually lead to death.


Additionally, ultraviolet rays damage the plant cells which further affects the photosynthesis process and decreases the plants yield. So there will be an overall decrease in crop yield. In extreme cases, it can even destroy the entire crop. Due to a decrease in yield, can affect the overall economy. It can create a shortage of food on large masses which can turn into widespread famine. This famine can soon lead to the death of a large number of people due to hunger, poverty, starvation, diseases, etc.


It turns out that if we don’t control the rate of increasing population, nature will soon start its own way of renewal.