During the 1970s, humanity as a whole moved into ecological overshoot—the point at which the annual ecological footprint matched the Earth’s annual biocapacity. That is, the Earth’s human population began consuming renewable resources faster than ecosystems can regenerate them and releasing more CO2 than ecosystems can absorb. Carbon dioxide emissions can exceed the rate at which forests and other ecosystems are able to absorb them, meaning additional earths would be required to fully sequester these emissions. The consequences of excess greenhouse gases that cannot be absorbed by vegetation are also being seen: increasing concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere, leading to increasing global temperatures and climate change, and ocean acidification. These place additional stresses on biodiversity and ecosystems.
Our OTechnology designs are targeted to produce much less CO2 than the average U.S. home—where the average home produces as much as 10 to 30 metric tons of CO2 annually, we estimate our homes produce less than 1 metric ton per year.
More than half of the CO2 emitted annually is absorbed by oceans, soils, and trees. The rapid rate at which carbon dioxide is pouring into the atmosphere is overwhelming these natural systems, posing a particular threat to ocean ecosystems. The large amounts of dissolved CO2 alter ocean chemistry, making seawater more acidic, which makes it more difficult for organisms such as reef-building corals or shellfish to form their skeletons or shells. The world’s oceans are now more acidic than they have been at any time in the past 20 million years. Experts have estimated that if CO2 emissions continue to rise on their long-term trajectory, coral reefs around the world may be dying off by 2050. It’s only one step toward a different future, but by purchasing an OHome, OClass, or OHousing unit, you can be confident that you have made an environmentally sound decision, dramatically reducing your carbon footprint on an annual basis.
Health and / or Social Benefits
The role of humans in the carbon cycle is not new. Human activities have influenced it for thousands of years through agriculture, forestry, trade, and energy use in industry and transport. However, only over the past two or three centuries have these activities become sufficiently widespread and far reaching to match the great forces of the natural world. Nature has a natural flow and cycles to it, but we are unnaturally pushing those cycles to extreme levels so they are no longer natural or safe any longer. If you know you can help by lowering your carbon footprint and bringing things back into their normal natural cycles, why not help?
The economic reward of creating a low carbon footprint structure comes from the energy efficiency of the structure itself. On a global economic level, it is estimated that between 1% and 2% of global gross domestic product per year would be necessary to stop the worst effects of climate change.
Living Planet Report 2010
ZSL – Institute of Zoology
Fossil Fuel Use Pushes Carbon Dioxide Emissions into Dangerous Territory
Earth Policy Institute Website, July 2013
Science Framework and Implementation Strategy of the Global Carbon Project
Global Carbon Project
New Science Paper Says Carbon Emissions Threaten Coral Reefs
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, December 2007