“Our goal is to make it easy for everyone to get involved and make a difference. Care2 members love to be able to help offset their carbon footprint through our partnership with Carbonfund.org,” says Care2 CEO Randy Paynter.For information, please visit us at Care2.com.
Your carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases produced to directly and indirectly support your activities. It is usually expressed in equivalent metric tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2).
The average American is responsible for a whopping 50,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions annually. Some examples of your carbon footprint are:
- When your car’s engine burns fuel it creates CO2, the amount generated depends on its fuel consumption and the driving distance.
- Heating your house with oil, gas, or coal also generates CO2.
- Even if you heat (or cool) your house with electricity, CO2 is emitted during the generation of electrical power, most of which comes from coal in the US.
- When you buy food and goods, the production of the food and goods creates CO2; again, the amount depends on where the foods and goods came from and how they were created.
- Traveling on a plane generates CO2 in the same ways a car does.
- Weddings even create CO2 emissions! See this past post for more information about how to reduce your wedding’s environmental impact.
- Also consider all the indirect emissions you are in part responsible for: the roads we drive on, the schools our kids attend, the mall and grocery story, our shared military and city hall. It all adds up.
The bottom line is your carbon footprint is the sum of all carbon dioxide emissions that were generated by your activities in a given time period, typically one year.
The carbon footprint is a powerful tool in understanding your personal impact on global warming. Most people are surprised by the amount of CO2 their activities create. If you personally want to reduce your contribution to global warming, the calculation and monitoring of your carbon footprint is critical.
Carbonfund.org offers helpful calculators to estimate your carbon footprint. Individuals can follow this link for more information. http://www.carbonfund.org/individuals There is also a calculator for businesses here.
We’ve already examined and defined a carbon footprint, but have you ever heard of an ecological footprint? An ecological footprint compares human demands on nature with the Earth's ability to regenerate resources and provide services.
Ecological footprints are ever changing because of advances in technology and a three-year lag for the UN to collect and publish statistics. However, it is a standardized measure that begins by assessing the amount of biologically productive land and sea area necessary to supply the resources a human population uses. This is then contrasted with the planet’s ability to absorb associated waste and ecological capacity to regenerate. Think of it like how much of the Earth (or how many planet Earths) it would take to support humanity given an average lifestyle. In 2007, humanity's total ecological footprint was estimated at 1.5 planet Earths. This means humans are currently using ecological services 1.5 times quicker than Earth can renew them.
William Rees was the first academic to publish about an ecological footprint in 1992. He supervised the PhD dissertation of Mathis Wackernagel who outlined the concept and offered a calculation method. Rees penned the term ecological footprint in a more accessible manner than the original name of “appropriated carrying capacity” after a computer technician described Rees’ new computer as having a small footprint on the desk. Wackernagel and Rees published the book Our Ecological Footprint: Reducing Human Impact on the Earth in early 1996.
The implications are dire according to Rees who wrote in 2010, “…the average world citizen has an eco-footprint of about 2.7 global average hectares while there are only 2.1 global hectare of bioproductive land and water per capita on earth. This means that humanity has already overshot global biocapacity by 30% and now lives unsustainabily by depleting stocks of ‘natural capital’.”
We’re definitely overspending the planet’s resources. Just take a look at man-made global warming and climate change. We need to continue on the path to seeking a sustainable lifestyle, and do it on a global scale. All of us working together can reduce the amount of the earth’s resources that we consume. Start with yourself and get creative with how many ways you can save energy and recycle. What’s great about beginning with energy efficiency is that it can save you money too. Then there are cost effective ways to offset the rest such as by contributing to Carbonfund.org’s development of renewable energy technologies and carbon emissions reduction projects. The important thing is to get started right away.
The Earth cannot use words to speak for itself, but if it could what would be on its climate wishlist this holiday season?
Environmental activists and climate scientists have done a good job of communicating the risks of climate change. Part of the issue is that it’s a delicate balance between scaring people so thoroughly that they don’t think there is anything they can do about global warming and encouraging people to make any changes that positively impact the environment, even small ones to start. Perhaps we’ve also underestimated the importance of personal experience.
The facts on climate change alone are not enough. We’ve had solid, scientific evidence for many years that global warming is man-made and happening right now. However, many people need to experience the effects for themselves in order for the light bulb to go off in their heads. Hurricane Sandy and other extreme weather events are helping people to connect the dots, but now that process has begun the question then becomes, “What next?”
We have a responsibility to be good stewards of the planet. That is what the climate needs and wants this holiday season. There are two main changes that we can undertake to fulfill the planet’s climate wishlist. The first is to lower our carbon footprints. Ask yourself, do I really need to leave my lights on all day at home when I am not there? Can I combine trips in the car to drive less or take public transportation instead? What simple steps can I take to save energy and myself some money as well?
The second change is to offset the rest of your carbon footprint. There are many affordable options to make this holiday season a reality, not just for the planet, but for future generations also. Any positive steps you take are welcome and really do make a difference. Although the planet cannot use words to thank you, reducing what you can and offsetting the rest is a beautiful gift and a wonderful place to start this holiday season.
Protecting the environment and preserving natural carbon sequestration are among the things that matter to the team at Earthy Matters. An environmental consultancy based in the North West of Ireland, Earthy Matters is involved in the measurement of greenhouse gases in a range of natural and degraded ecosystems, and other environmental services, including:
- Greenhouse gas monitoring
- Ecological surveys
- Natura Impact Statement (Appropriate Assessment)
- Expertise on windfarms on peatlands
- Managing research projects
- Desktop research review
- Editing and proof-reading of scientific papers for publication
A current project, called CarbonRestore, is studying the potential for restored peatlands to provide carbon sequestration. The CarbonRestore project is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency and the semi-state company Bord na Móna.
Pristine or undamaged peatlands play a major role in the regulation and maintenance of the global climate by acting as long-term sinks of atmospheric carbon. As a result of a persistently high water table and the presence of peat forming vegetation within the peatland, carbon inputs (photosynthesis) are greater than carbon losses (respiration, methane (CH4) emissions, leaching and surface runoff of dissolved organic carbon). When a peatland undergoes a change in land use, for example industrial peat extraction, the carbon sink function is seriously impaired. Drainage results in increased emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and the peatland is transformed into a significant carbon source. In Ireland, it is estimated that over the next 30-40 years, the 80,000 hectares of industrial peatlands in Ireland will have reached the end of their economic life. Restoration of these damaged ecosystems offers the potential to enhance biodiversity, reduce gaseous carbon losses and return the carbon sequestration function.
In addition to their environmental services projects, Earthy Matters is firmly committed to protecting the environment and to minimise their own impact of the global climate through the reduction of their carbon footprint. “We are conscious that our work involves a considerable amount of travel and emissions of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. We are delighted to partner with Carbonfund.org as they provide a measureable and verifiable means of offsetting our emissions.” - David Wilson and Florence Renou-Wilson, Owners.
Read more about CarbonRestore and Earthy Matters’ work here.
- Basement: If you have a basement, this may be where you'll find the most available space.
- Attic: An attic can be a large, quiet space–and also bright and cheerful, if you install skylights or roof windows.
- Attached Garage: A garage will have easy and private access. It has quite a bit of room and can be finished off fairly easily. The big space left by the overhead door is a wonderful opportunity to design in some nice windows and/or door into your office.
- Hallway: Hallways with niches or extra space are opportunities for small office spaces.
- Closets: Closets are usually in short supply, so taking one over for an office space may not be a popular idea in your household. But possibly the closet contents can be moved to a basement area, attic area or someplace that is good enough for storage but not good enough for office space.
- Sharing Space: A wall or two in the kitchen, living room, a bedroom or some other room may work for you. Possibly some office functions can be in one space and others in a second or third space (try setting up your computer in the bedroom and link to the printer in the kitchen).
- Certified CarbonFree: To meet the rigorous standards of the CarbonFree Product Certification Program, GoECOlife™ assessed the carbon footprint of this product throughout its lifecycle and offset the carbon footprint of the product through investments in renewable energy and reforestation.
- Energy Saving: GoECO Energy-Saving Technology prevents phantom power loss, so you use less energy and save money!
- Meets RoHS standards that restrict the use of hazardous substances such as lead, mercury and other heavy metals.
- Responsibly packaged.