Everyone has a personal carbon footprint and that carbon footprint is currently about an average of four tons of carbon each year.
That's a problem. If we want to keep global warming under the 2 degrees Celsius threshold, we need to have our carbon footprint by 2050.
Worse, while the global average carbon footprint is four tons, in the United States it's 16 tons!
So, here's what you need to know about your carbon footprint.
What Are Greenhouse Gas Emissions?
Greenhouse gases are the gases that raise the temperature of the Earth, at least based on our current understanding of the environment, and it's greenhouse gases that are the largest contributor to the climate crisis and they are caused mainly by gases that include carbon atoms.
Thus you might think of your carbon footprint as the equivalent of all the carbon emissions that result in these greenhouse gases being released in a year.
Why Do Carbon Dioxide Emissions Matter?
The most common gas that most of us create is carbon dioxide. You release carbon dioxide when you exhale, when you drive your car, when fossil fuels are burned on your behalf, etc.
And carbon dioxide is a major contributor to global warming it's not the only greenhouse gas but it is the one over which we probably have the most control.
The fewer emissions of this gas that we make? The smaller our carbon footprint measures and that's a good thing.
What Is A Carbon Footprint?
So, the per capita carbon footprint is calculated as an average of all the greenhouse gases created by a country in a year, divided by the number of people in that country.
You can calculate your own ecological footprint using this calculator at Nature. That carbon footprint calculator is a very handy tool for the next exercise.
How Can We Tackle Our Own Footprint?
The good news is that we can take action to reduce our own footprint.
- We can travel less. Travel often involves burning fossil fuels and that means emissions but if you don't travel, you don't create these gases.
- We can change the way we travel. It's a good idea to swap your petrol car for an electric car, for example. Electric vehicles are a great way to reduce emissions. So is public transport and if you avoid flying, you will also save on carbon.
- We can eat less meat. There's no doubt that a vegan diet can help make a big difference to our carbon generation. That's because cows release methane which is another greenhouse affecting gas.
- You can turn down the heat/cooling at home. Energy efficiency is a big deal. The more you save energy – the more you're going to cut down on emissions. Air conditioning, in particular, is an energy consumption hog.
- Switch out for LED lighting. You need less electricity generation when you use LED because they take about 15% of the power of traditional lights. They also last much longer.
- Learn to recycle. When we reuse and recycle things, our energy usage is far lower than making something new. An individual's carbon footprint can be dramatically reduced by learning to do this in all areas of our lives.
- Start using carbon offsets. If you can't cut down on all your direct emissions, then another way to approach this is to invest in carbon projects that reduce the amount of gases in the air. A service such as Get Offset can ensure you keep your environmental account in the black.
Final Thoughts On Carbon And Climate Change
Climate change is a major problem and one of the best ways we can help fight climate change is to take control of our carbon footprint.
By reducing the amount of greenhouse gasses that we produce, we can help ensure that everyone on the planet has a future.