Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Carbon footprint

I ran the calculations for my household’s carbon footprint and I am very ashamed. It is bad. Before I tell you what it is, I will make you a promise that we will change it. We will make the changes necessary to cut our co2 emissions because if we don’t we are contributing greatly to the destruction of our earth. Ok here goes, my household carbon footprint is 49 tons of co2 a year. According to the EPA that is equivalent to 115 barrels of oil.
What the heck am I taking about? Let me explain. Scientist have been keeping detailed records of the climate since the 1860’s with that data they are able to see that in the last 100 years the world temperature has raised by .6 degrees Celsius. Paeoclimatologists (scientist who study climate change though out the ages) can look at ice and trees to see what the climate was like in the past before we were keeping a record of it. Scientist look at all of this information and can make predictions about what will happen to our planet. So what does this have to do with co2 and a carbon footprint? In the past 100 years when scientist noted a raise in worldwide temperatures they also noted an increase in co2 emissions, the two are connected. The more carbon dioxide that we produce the more the climate can rise which can cause heat waves, a raise in sea level, the destruction of habitats. The Environmental Defense Organization estimates that climate change puts 20 % to 30% of our world species at risk of extinction. We are already seeing species being affected, like polar bears, who were added to the Endangered Species Act list in 2008. It doesn’t just affect plants and animals, the raise in temperature can affect humans health, the spread of disease, even our air quality. The list of potential impacts that the rise in climate can have is large and scary.
So what can we do? Lower our carbon footprint. Look at the things in your life that produce carbon dioxide and stop using them, if that isn’t possible try using them less. Here are a few suggestions:
Use and electric mower instead of gas, start a compost pile, plant a tree, buy locally grown produce, only use your dishwasher when it is totally full, plant a tree, stop using plastic water bottles, take a direct flight when flying, pack lighter when flying, buy seasonal food, eat one less serving of meat a week, read your newspaper and magazines online, bring your own mug to starbucks, use a slow cooker or crock pot to make food, only boil one cup of water at a time instead of a full pot, only heat the room you are in, drive below the speed limit, re use ziplock bags, and collect rain water to water your garden.
To see what your household’s carbon footprint is check out the Marion Institutes Carbon Calculator at http://www.marioninstitute.org/programs/gaviotas-carbon-offset-initiative/carbon-calculator
I will keep everyone updated on our family’s efforts in lowering our carbon footprint. I hope that a year from now our footprint with be below the national average!!

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