How carbon footprints work?
A footprint is a mark, usually, left behind by an animal. It offers clues and details about the size, the weight the speed of the animal and the direction it is headed.While actual footprints give these kind of information, a carbon footprint, is something completely different, as it provides information that can be useful for the protection of the enviroment and the improvement of our own lives.
What exactly is a carbon footprint?
Well,a carbon footprint is a way of measuring the carbon dioxide (CO2) that's being produced while we're living our everyday lives.
The production of electricity and the combustion inside cars' engines, for example, depend heavily on fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil. When these fuels burn several gases are emmited with CO2 being, among these emmisions.
How a carbon footprint is measured?
The measurement of a nation's, an organization's or even an individual's carbon footprint can be done with an assesement of green house gases emissions,(mostly CO2) something that's known as, 'carbon accounting'.For the purpose of this measurement, there are several free online 'carbon footprint calculators' provided by universities,research centers,companies and even crowd funding platforms that relate to climate projects.
On these sites, the user will be asked a number of questions about his diet, his transportations choices,his usage of electricity and heating,his home size,his usage of 'heavy'appliances (dryers,refrigarators etc) and finally,his shopping activities.Then the website ,proceeds in estimating the carbon footprint based on the answers given to these questions.The final result, is a figure that describes the annual or monthly total CO2 production measured in tons.
The largest source of CO2 emissions is transportation (flying,driving and smaller amounts from public transit).Housing (electricity, waste, natural gas,construction) is the second largest source, followed by food (emissions from animals,animal waste and factories that process food).The United States (U.S.) has the second highest CO2 emissions, with the average U.S household's carbon footprint being five times greater than the global average.Specifically it produces around 50 tons CO2/year while the global average is 10 tons/year.Using carbon footprints, one can estimate CO2 emissions and therefore has a 'picture' about the 'damage' done to the enviroment.But,carbon footprints can ,also, be used to control and reduce our CO2 emissions via tracking our actions and habits.
Here's how. One way of reducing carbon footprint, is by recyclying and reuse. For example in manufacturing,materials used for packing, or even waste can be recycled while on every household there should be a 'habit' of recycling.When 50% of a household's waste is recycled,they can lower their annnual carbon footprint by 1.2 tons.
If this is for some reason, not available as an option, then reusable items such as thermoses can be used for all kind of drinks,instead of disposable ones.
Another way to minimize CO2 production is simply by driving less.If someone walks or uses a bike to reach his destination instead of driving, he will burning less fuel (resulting in releasing fewer CO2) but at the same time he'll save money on gas.So,two birds with one stone! However, if walking is not an option, then one can use the mass transportation services (bus,subway etc) in his area.
In conclusion, a carbon footprint is a figure that helps someone determine his CO2 emission.It can be measured by answering simple questions on specific websites and can be used for controlling and reducing CO2 emissions.