Climate Change. Everyone’s talking about it. For years, we have fingered Big Oil, India and China. We point to the production of fossil fuels, corporate farms and burgeoning populations in Africa and Asia. And well, we should. But what is rarely talked about is the role of the individual, and the West in particular, in stemming climate change.
The collective load of carbon dioxide and methane released into the earth’s atmosphere is the principal driver of climate change. Exhaust from cars and trucks; industrial air emissions from factories and power plants; livestock and common agricultural practices all contribute. As consumers, we create the demand for each of these and thereby determine their magnitude.
Most of us have little or no idea whether our footprint is large or small, or how it compares. The lifestyle of the average American generates the equivalent of 20 tons of carbon per year, expressed as carbon dioxide. Compare this with the average citizen of a developing country, who emits about two tons annually. The personal carbon footprint in America is, on average, ten times larger than that of a person in Asia.
How does one learn about their carbon footprint? The internet provides a number of free carbon calculators that are both informative and fun to use. One such calculator is the ecological footprint calculator at www.footprintcalculator.org. The calculator helps identify what aspects of our lifestyle are the “heavy-hitters” in carbon releases. For some, it may be transportation habits; for others, an ancient heating system or particular food choices. Each person’s carbon footprint is unique.
Even amidst the pandemic, there is no better time to take intentional steps to curb our individual carbon footprint. Let’s all check our carbon “shoe size” to help tackle climate change.