With the challenges posed by climate change we are talking more and more about our carbon footprint and what measures can be taken to reduce it. The total amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of your individual actions accounts for your personal carbon footprint. We’ve put together a few facts about carbon footprint that may make you think.
Food Production is the Worst Offender
The production and processing of food for human consumption accounts for 83 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, with 11 percent produced as a result of transportation. The agricultural sector is the major source of greenhouse gases through its use of nitrogen-based fertilizers and the methane released by animals such as sheep, cattle, and goats. Studies have also shown that by choosing to eat locally grown food, the carbon emission equivalent of driving 1,000 miles can be saved in a year.
Water has a High Carbon Footprint
Water conservation is an important factor in the drive to reduce carbon emissions, while adapting to the consequences of climate change. Although water is effectively sourced naturally it does come at a price. Mains water needs to be pumped, filtered and sanitized using processes and equipment that draw power from the electricity grid. A dripping tap or a leaky hose can have a great effect on the use of manpower, fuel and electricity consumption and, as a result, increases carbon emissions.
Although water shortages are a rare occurrence in Ireland, increased demand, coupled with the impacts of climate change are currently causing supply problems. Ireland currently uses 160 litres per person per day more than the European average, with home gardens being the main source of wastage.
Paper Production Contributes to Carbon Emissions
Just like water, the more paper you use, the more you are contributing to carbon emissions through the intensive production process and the consequences of deforestation. A living tree stores and processes carbon dioxide retrieved directly from the atmosphere and releases oxygen in its place through aspiration. When a tree is felled the carbon stored in its cellular system is released back into the environment, contributing to global warming as a greenhouse gas. The best advice is to use paper products sparingly, thinking carefully about the need to print documents. Using recycled paper whenever you can will ease the pressure on your carbon footprint.
Volcanoes Create less Greenhouse Gases than People
Geophysical surveys have determined that volcanic activity produces less carbon dioxide than humans. The amount of carbon dioxide produced as a result of volcanic eruptions, magma explosions, hot springs and underwater vents amounts to 0.15 billion metric tons. This pales into insignificance when put up against the staggering human tally of 40 billion tons per annum.
Drive Less and Drive Slower
By reducing your average car mileage from 15,000 to 10,000 miles a year, you can save more than a ton of carbon dioxide, which works out at about 15% of the average person’s carbon footprint. Travelling at the speed limit will save between 12% and 18% on fuel consumption and drastically reduce a corresponding amount in emissions.
If you must travel by road then consider changing to an electric vehicle when your existing car comes to the end of its viable life. A battery car will save you money on fuel, particularly if you drive tens of thousands of miles a year. The energy needed to power its batteries is produced by conventional means, often fossil fuel derived, but the latest generation of electric vehicles are much more efficient with less wearable parts, drastically reducing your carbon footprint over the course of its extended lifespan.
The never-ending flow of facts and figures relating to emissions, global warming and managing our carbon footprints demonstrate the urgent need to address climate change on a personal level. By taking on the challenge of global warming with sustainable changes to our busy lifestyles we can reduce our carbon footprints and take the pressure off our struggling environment.