The old saying is that fish are unaware of the water they swim in. Humans, being creatures of comfort and habit, are similarly unaware of their carbon footprint.
Take for instance the idea that consumption of animal protein, especially red meat; is good for us. It may be true in many regards, but there are limits if the practice is to be sustainable. Another example is rice production, a staple food of the Asian diet, but a practice that produces high amounts of methane from rice paddies. And, finally, the transport of highly perishable produce and packaged foods long distances, sometimes to the other side of the world, via high carbon and pollution emitting transportation: good for business, bad for the planet.
Each human must understand how carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and other greenhouse gases (GHG) are produced from the burning of fossil fuels, especially natural gas, crude oil and coal. And each government, local regional and national, must measure local emissions, implement reduction strategies and set mandatory emission targets.
Part of the reluctance to admitting that human created carbon dioxide (CO2) may be contributing to global climate change comes from being oblivious to how individual activities pollute the atmosphere: driving a car, buying products made of plastic, riding on a subway or train, you name it.
Online Carbon Footprint Calculators
The average American produces 20 tons of CO2 a year (12 tons coming from US commercial and industrial sources). The average per capita worldwide is 6 tons.
Botany.org has created a questionnaire below to help you estimate your personal contribution:
- Do you have a TV? (a regular TV uses about 120 kwh of electricity thus producing ~196 lbs. of CO2)
- Do you have a washing machine? (regular washer uses about 120 kwh of electricity thus producing ~196 lbs. of CO2)
- How about a dryer? (a dryer uses about 1,079 kwh of electricity thus producing ~1,770 lbs. of CO2)
- Do you use a dishwasher? (a dishwasher uses about 512 kwh of electricity thus producing ~840 lbs. of CO2)
- What about a stove? (a stove may use about 975 kwh of electricity thus producing ~1,600 lbs. of CO2)
- A microwave? (a microwave uses about 209 kwh of electricity thus producing ~343 lbs. of CO2)
- How about your refrigerator? (a refrigerator uses about 1,079 kwh of electricity thus producing ~1,770 lbs. of CO2)
- Do you have a computer at home? (a computer uses about 262 kwh of electricity thus producing ~430 lbs. of CO2)
- What about a printer? (on average, running a printer uses about 45 kwh of electricity thus producing ~74 lbs. of CO2)
- No how about a cell phone? (charging your cell phone uses about 9 kwh of electricity thus producing ~15 lbs. of CO2)
- What about air-conditioning? (an average air-conditioner uses about 2,800 kwh of electricity thus producing ~4,592 lbs. of CO2)
- And your water heater? (an average water heater uses about 2,800 kwh of electricity thus producing ~4,592 lbs. of CO2)
- And we’re pretty sure you have electric lights, right? (an average home’s lights use about 1,400 kwh of electricity thus producing ~2,296 lbs. of CO2)
- Heating, do you use electric or gas heating? (gas uses about 50,000 cubic meters of gas or ~ 6,053 lbs. of CO2, electric heating uses about 2,800 kwh of electricity thus producing ~4,592 lbs. of CO2) To make things simple and consistent, we’ll assume you use electricity
The Nature Conservancy has created on online calculator.
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- Will NASA’s New $280 Million Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO-2) Help Resolve The Climate Change Debate?
References and related content:
- What is a carbon footprint – definition Time for change
- What is Carbon Footprint? – Definition from Techopedia
- how to reduce your carbon footprint