What is a carbon footprint

What is a carbon footprint

In simple terms, a carbon footprint is just the complete amount of greenhouse gases emitted as a result of both direct and indirect human activity. Carbon footprint totals are normally written and spoken of in terms of tons of carbon dioxide. So, when related to everyday activities, the simple act of driving a car to work requires that the car’s engine burns (usually) fossil fuel which subsequently creates an amount of carbon dioxide emissions. This amount will typically depend upon the fuel consumption rate of your car as well as how far you actually drive every day.

Also, the act of heating your home with any of the fossil fuels, coal oil of gas, also produces and emits levels of carbon dioxide, the levels of which will also depend on how often you use your heating, and to what level. Also, heating your home using electricity will cause levels of carbon dioxide emissions due to the necessary generation of electrical power needed. Also, the purchasing and consumption of goods and foodstuffs lead to certain emission levels of carbon dioxide, generally as a result of the energy needed for their production and manufacture.

Simply, everything we do on Earth within any given time frame that leads to emissions of carbon dioxide can be referred to-and recorded as-our carbon footprint. The most common timeframe within which a carbon footprint is measured is a period of one year.

One of the principal contributing factors towards racking up a large carbon footprint is the widespread practise of foreign travel for holidays. Plane travel produces a large carbon footprint due to the huge amounts of fuel consumed and emitted as a result of plane travel. Governments are currently looking at methods-including raising taxes on air tickets-to enforce lower carbon footprints as a result of air travel. Also, people’s domestic habits have also come under much more personal and organisational scrutiny with regard to individual carbon footprints.

Many municipalities and local councils now impose levies and fines on individual households that either refuse to recycle their waste products and refuse or even mistakenly throw out recyclable items. Many companies, mindful of industrial contributions to greenhouse gas emissions, also offer certain incentives to trade-in old fridges and other household electrical items for newer, greener, energy-efficient models. These companies will also receive tax incentives for doing so.

Carbon dioxide is, however, just one of the greenhouse gases to take into account with regards to impacting upon a carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions. Other gases measured in terms of a carbon footprint according to the Kyoto protocol are methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride.

A person can add a full 1 kilogram of carbon dioxide to their own personal carbon footprint by traveling by train or bus for between 10-12 kilometres, driving a distance of 6 kilometres (taking into account 7.3 litres of gas per hundred kilometres); flying 2,2 kilometres; producing 5 plastic bags or spend 32 hours on your computer. Clearly, by becoming aware of what impacts upon our carbon footprint, we can take steps to reduce our harmful activities.

No Comments »

No comments yet.

Leave a comment