Carbon Footprint Facts for Kids

Updated March 23, 2017

Climate change, a series of events in the earth's environment resulting from increasing global temperatures, is a hotly contested issue in some political circles. It has, however, been upheld by several scientific bodies, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. There are a number of facts kids can learn about carbon footprints, which are defined as an individual's contribution to the excess of carbon dioxide build-up in the atmosphere that scientists believe causes climate change.

Greenhouse Effect

To understand why the climate would be warming, it is important for kids to understand the Earth's "greenhouse effect." Greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, help keep the earth warm. They float in the atmosphere, the blanket of gases that surrounds the earth, and allow the sun's warming rays through to the earth's surface. When these rays reflect back up, the greenhouse gases keep the warmth from the rays inside the earth's atmosphere. This is how the planet stays warm.

Climate Change

Greenhouse gases are not in themselves a bad thing. The Earth's greenhouse effect is what keeps the planet warm, and allows life to exist, even for the half of the Earth that isn't facing the sun at any given point in time. Scientists believe that climate change is the result of mankind producing too much greenhouse gas. This excessive amount keeps too much of the warmth from the sun bottled up underneath the atmosphere, and the added warmth is causing a number of problems for the climate.

Carbon Footprints

An individual's carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, that the individual's activities produce. These are activities add this greenhouse gas to the atmosphere. These activities include things like driving in a car, flying in a plane and using electricity in their homes. Most power in the United States is provided by plants that burn coal, which produces greenhouse gases. While leaving a light on doesn't seem like it's creating greenhouse gases, if the power is coming from plants that burn fossil fuels, which produce greenhouse gases, then it is.

Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Changing small habits can reduce your carbon footprint. Instead of having your parents drive you to and from school, you can walk or ride your bike. Instead of waiting for your parents to tell you to turn off the light when you leave a room, remember to do it yourself. This will help the environment, and help your parents save money. You can also help plant trees, which absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

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About the Author

Micah McDunnigan has been writing on politics and technology since 2007. He has written technology pieces and political op-eds for a variety of student organizations and blogs. McDunnigan earned a Bachelor of Arts in international relations from the University of California, Davis.