Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Carbon Footprint

I’ve been measuring my carbon footprint with some different websites, and getting a variety of answers. A Carbon Footprint is a measure of the impact human activities have on the environment in terms of the amount of green house gases produced, measured in units of carbon dioxide.

With http://actonco2.direct.gov.uk/index.html I get 4.39 tons of Carbon Dioxide, which seems to be too much, as on another website www.carboncalculator.co.uk I get 1.3. At yet another I get 3.5, the facebook application http://apps.facebook.com/hotonearth. None of them take into account things like shopping, do you buy lots of imports or local stuff, or and water use, wash the car daily or use the minimum for personal hygiene. One thing that affects my score is that my water boiler is quite old and inefficient, a new one would have a high embodied energy cost, so for the moment I’m leaving it.

Apparently Madonna has an annual carbon footprint of 1,018 tonnes! John Travolta’s is nearly 100 times that of the average Briton — and that’s just the footprint related to the 30,000 annual miles he logs behind the controls of five aircraft he owns and parks outside his Florida home not far from his private runway! Al Gore made a fine movie but his is 20 times the national average, mostly his house seems to have the insulation properties of a tent, and he does a lot of travelling (though campaigning to reduce emissions is a pretty good excuse for that).

The average American is responsible for about 20 tons of carbon dioxide pa. Another website says the average personal carbon dioxide emissions for an individual in the developed world is 9.7 tonnes.

The diplomat charged by our Government with lecturing the world on global warming has been revealed as one of the biggest contributors to it. John Ashton does so much flying his footprint is over 22 tons. Margaret Beckett managed around 70 tons a year when foreign secretary. Isn’t the freedom of information act, which has revealed this, wonderful? Prince Charles has on of 3,775 tonnes. Like many he pays to offset, but this doesn’t reduce the harmful gases damaging our atmosphere, but it is good to plant more trees.

The average carbon footprint is six in the UK; in Birmingham its 16.34, 22.07 in London and 12.24 in Norwich. This reflects regional wealth disparity as well as lifestyle choices. One day displays of wealth won’t be in large cars or frequent flights, but in who has the most efficient lifestyle with the lowest emissions, less will one day be more.

2 comments:

Kitchen Witch said...

There's a good book about attempting to shrink one's carbon footprint; I did a quick review of it over at the Ecologist, and really enjoyed it.

Adrian Windisch said...

Great to have a comment from one of the most read green boggers, thank you KW. Most of the sites measuring footprints lead to how to reduce it. Even measuring it makes one more aware of the environmental cost of our daily lives.

I was planning to blog about what i've done to reduce mine later, mostly insulating my house and measuring my energy use with an electrisave. I no longer use a freezer, there are plenty of shops to by food, why do I need to use lots of energy to store it?