Earth Science

Human Impacts on the Earth Environment

Reducing Greenhouse Gas Pollution

Study Tip
Carbon taxes work just like other taxes: they discourage activity by implementing fines.

Kyoto Protocol

  • International agreements have been a method of trying to encourage the countries of the world to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The Kyoto Protocol was an agreement that set up a cap-and-trade system, a system that provides a monetary incentive for the countries that reduced their carbon levels. This agreement was not very successful because it did not encourage countries to follow it.
Study Tip
Carbon taxes work just like other taxes: they discourage activity by implementing fines.

Carbon Taxes

  • Some governments have placed carbon taxes on their citizens and businesses.
  • A carbon tax fines the emissions of carbon dioxide, encouraging energy conservation.
  • As an alternative to fossil fuels, people have begun to use biofuels to reduce costs.

Carbon Capture and Sequestration

  • Carbon sequestration is the method of taking carbon dioxide out of the air. This occurs naturally in forests, but can also occur artificially.
  • This carbon dioxide can be stored underground in salt layers or coal seams.
  • Scientists are trying to find new ways to counteract global warming.
  • One idea would be sending mirrors into orbit around the Earth, partially blocking sunlight coming to Earth.
Concept Check
  • What was the Kyoto Protocol, and why didn’t it work?
  • What are carbon taxes, and what do they try to combat?
  • What does carbon sequestration accomplish?