What is a Carbon Footprint?


Within the last few decades, awareness regarding climate change around the world has continued to increase as more people become aware of their impact on global warming and climate change. Although studies have shown that we are quickly reaching the crisis point for our environment, making major lifestyle changes can be daunting when you have no idea how you and your family actually impact the environment.
This is where the carbon footprint comes in. By understanding your carbon footprint, you can find ways to reduce your impact on the environment by targeting specific activities and lifestyle choices.

What is a Carbon Footprint?

Your carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases you produce directly or indirectly. In this case, greenhouse gases are usually expressed in tons of carbon dioxide, or CO2. While other greenhouse gases are certainly involved in climate change, they are usually converted into CO2 to make understanding impact a bit easier. You produce a certain amount of greenhouse gases or carbon dioxide every time you drive your car, take a trip, heat or cool your home, buy food and purchase electronics and other items.

What is Global Warming?

Global warming is a phenomenon where the average temperature of the planet rises. As the temperatures rise, the additional heat causes the Earth’s delicate ecosystem to change. For example, the glaciers and polar ice melts, affecting sea levels. Rising temperatures also have an impact on the weather, causing abnormal weather patterns and increasing the number of extreme weather events, including droughts, floods and tornadoes.

How Does Your Carbon Footprint Contribute to Global Warming?

Greenhouse gases, such as CO2, capture heat that comes from the sun. As the amount of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere increase, more heat is trapped, causing the Earth’s temperature to rise. The more CO2 and other greenhouse gases you create, the more you contribute to global warming. While it is true that your carbon footprint is much smaller when compared to major polluting businesses, reducing the amount of CO2 in your daily life can actually result in a healthier lifestyle for you and your family.

How Can You Calculate Your Carbon Footprint?

One of the easiest ways to get an estimate of your carbon footprint is to simply use a carbon footprint calculator. You can find a free calculator at Carbon Independent. The calculator allows you to input your electricity use or get a quick estimate if you do not have your bills on hand. All you will need to do is enter your household data, your personal lifestyle choices and travel choices.

Carbon Footprints around the World

The world average for CO2 production is 4 tons per household per year. The U.S. average is a staggering 20 tons of CO2 per household per year, far more than China and India, which produce 3.2 tons and 1.2 tons per household per year, respectively. It is argued that the estimated sustainable figure is 1.5 tons of CO2 emissions per household per year. For those of us living in the U.S., our high CO2 production averages may be due to the reliance on personal vehicles as transportation and our general consumption habits as a nation.

Is There a Way to Slow Down or Prevent Global Warming?

Every person has an impact on the environment and contributes to global warming. Anything you consume produces CO2 and other greenhouse gases. As such, reducing your carbon footprint is done by either consuming less or making changes to what and how you consume.

 

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