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Significance of Carbon Footprint
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Significance of Carbon Footprint

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A carbon footprint measures your personal or household output of carbon dioxide (CO2) in pounds; the larger the number, the greater your carbon footprint and the greater your affect on global warming.

Carbon dioxide contributes to global warming by accumulating in our atmosphere like a thick, insulating blanket resulting in rapid climate changes. Fluctuations in global temperature occur naturally and have been reoccurring for millions of years. In the past, changes in Earth’s temperature - cooling and warming - spanned thousands of years each time, allowing the planet and all living creatures to slowly adjust. The difference today is that this temperature change, in this case global warming, is occurring at lightening speed.

But how do you measure what you can’t see? The carbon footprint for an average U.S. household is approximately 150 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) per day, more than twice the European average and nearly five times the global average.

Experts suggest we need to reduce our carbon footprint by as much as 80 percent to effectively reverse global warming. Discover what factors contribute to global warming and then do your part by measuring and reducing your carbon footprint.

1. Track your mileage. Driving your car is the largest portion of your carbon footprint – about the size of your heel and arch put together! Track your mileage and calculate how many gallons of fuel you use each day. For each gallon of gasoline consumed, add 19.6 pounds of CO2. Lower your CO2 emissions by walking or bicycling, carpooling, riding public transportation, and planning errands around other necessary trips in town. Maintaining your vehicle keeps it running cleaner and also helps reduce your carbon footprint.

2. Read your electric meter. Each day record your kilowatt-hours (kWh) used. Every kilowatt-hour produces 1.5 pounds of CO2. But for every kilowatt-hour used, 2.2 are wasted, or lost, during transmission over electrical lines. Therefore, small changes can have a big impact. Reduce your usage by replacing standard light bulbs to compact fluorescents. Keep in mind, fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury so proper disposal at your local recycling center is a must. Turning off computers when not in use can reduce their carbon footprint by 50 percent.

3. Track your natural gas or propane meter. Again, record your daily usage of natural gas. Every 100 cubic feet belches out 12 pounds of CO2. Propane gas uses slightly more at 12.6 pounds per gallon. Reduce your heating carbon footprint by replacing heater filters each month during the winter. If you have an older home with single pane windows, consider replacing them this summer for huge savings next winter. Your heating bill and your carbon footprint will reduce dramatically.

4. Measure your carbon footprint. Gather your data and calculate your carbon footprint online. There are a number of easy-to-use calculators available and, while they may vary in the level of detailed information, each one will give you a good indication of where you stand in your carbon footprint.

The time to act is now, for tomorrow might be too late!











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