Continuing with our previous post on 2010 International Year of Biodiversity in which I mentioned several factors that have a negative impact on ecosystems and biodiversit, today I will give some tips and suggestions on how to we can reduce our carbon footprint and mitigate climate change.
Carbon footprint is a way of measuring the impact our activities have on the environment, and in particular climate change. It tells us the amount of greenhouse gases produced in our day-to-day lives through burning fossil fuels for electricity, heating, cooking, transportation, etc. It is a measurement of all greenhouse gases we individually produce and has units of tonnes (or kg) of carbon dioxide equivalent.
Together we can fight Global Warming.
We can revert Climate Change.
Lets cut down NOW on our CO2 emissions
Reducing our Carbon emissions
Every time fuel (gas, coal, oil, wood) is burnt, carbon dioxide (CO2) is generated. Paper, garbage, branches, leaves, when burnt, also emit CO2. Our cars, cookers, boilers, heaters, electric appliances (most electricity is made by burning fossil fuels) all generate CO2. All the things that we consume (clothes, magazines, food, their packaging, shoes, toys, tools, PCs, CDs... all of them) require energy to be manufactured and transported to our homes. Energy means CO2 emissions.
Taking some simple, easy and cheap measures at our homes can help reduce these emissions, save energy and, save us some money too!.
Below are tips and information for householders to identify their carbon footprint sources and tips to reduce them.
» Cover your pans when you cook. This can reduce the energy needed by up to 90%
» Boil only the amount of water you need. Every cup you boil represents 25 cups of CO2 released.
» Use the right size pan for the food and cooker ring (the base should just cover the cooking ring) if you can see the heat (either the electric ring or the gas flame up the side of the pan) it’s too big and is costing you money.
» Choose locally grown food that is in season (reduces transportation and therefore emissions) - do you need strawberries that have been grown and flown in from Chile in summer?
» Get the message: just unplugging things when you are not using them saves energy. Televisions, videos, DVDs, stereos, cordless phones, mobile phone chargers and computers all waste energy if you leave them plugged in when you are not using them.
By switching off at the plug when not required you could save up to 8% off your electricity bill and and around 150 kg / 331 lb. of CO2 per year.
A TV if left on standby will be responsible for 30 kg / 66 lb. CO2 over the year.
» A mobile phone charger if left plugged in when not charging will be responsible for between 35 to 70 kg / 77 to 154 lb. of CO2 over the year.
Always unplug the mobile phone charger when not in use. Feel it, the warmth is caused by the constant consumption of electricity.
» Avoid using a dishwasher. If you have to, always make sure it’s full and uses a low temperature programme. Every time you use you a dishwasher you use enough electricity to release nearly 1 kg / 2.2 lb. of CO2. If you use it just once less a week that’s a saving of 52 kg / 115 lb. of CO2.
» Use the lowest temperature setting appropriate on your washing machine and always wash a full load.
Washing clothes at 30°C/ 86°F (rather than higher temperatures uses around 40% less electricity and saves around 45 kg / 99 lbof CO2 per year. Or, just do not use hot water: try cold washing.
» On a nice day hang your washing outside instead of using a tumble dryer. Every time you use a tumble dryer you use enough electricity to emit over 1.5 kg / 3.3 lb. CO2. A tumble dryer if used for every wash will be responsible for emitting about 140 kg / 308 lb. of CO2.
» Fridges and freezers: Make sure all food is cooled down before it goes in the fridge or freezer. Defrost your freezer regularly to keep it running efficiently and cheaply.
» Always turn them off when you leave a room!
» Keep curtains as wide open as possible during the day to let the light in but make sure they are drawn at dusk to stop heat leaving your home through the window.
» Replacing one of the most used traditional bulbs in your house with an energy saving bulb will save up to 40 kg / 88 lb. of CO2 a year.
Heating, Air conditioning and Hot Water
» On those cold winters evenings always reach for a jumper first before going for the thermostat. Every degree over 18°C (65°F) will increase your heating bills by about 8%. For a gas fired system that’s about 230 kg / 507 lb. CO2 a year.
» If your curtains are above a radiator – tuck them behind it when they are closed. This will keep the heat in the room and not out the window.
» If you can, set your hot water cylinder thermostat to 60°C / 140°F.
» If you have the choice, go for the shower. Baths use more hot water and will cost you more.
» Get a new shower head. Get a low–flow shower head, it will save an average of 200 kg / 441 lb. of CO2 a year.
» Buy a programmable thermostat. Automatically lower your monthly energy bill by giving your heat and air conditioning a break while you are asleep or out: 476 kg / 1,050 Pounds of CO2 savings per year.
» Cast a critical eye on your air conditioning and central heating: If you adjust your thermostat by just one–half degree Celsius during summer months, the average household can save 453 kg / 1,000 lb. of CO2.
» Stay comfortable by wearing fewer clothes and being less active in the home during summer months, while layering up in the winter. During the summer months, remember to run house–warming appliances like your washer, dryer, dishwasher and oven after the sun goes down to avoid heating up your house. Alternately, in the winter months use these appliances whenever your house is the coldest.
» When it’s practical, use a ceiling fan instead of your air conditioning and save 181 kg / 400 lb. of CO2. Help your air conditioner work smarter, not harder; remember to replace your filter according to recommendations and you can save 79 kg / 176 lb. of CO2.
» Wrap your water heater in an insulating jacket. It can save 500 kg / 1,100 lbs. of CO2 per year for an electric water heater, or 100 kg / 220 lb.for a gas heater.
Reduce and Reuse
» Reduce. Cut down on purchasing products with lots of packaging. Simply trimming garbage by 10% can save up to 454 kg / 1,000 lb. of CO2 within a year. Reducing your consumption of takeout boxes alone can save 11 kg / 24 lb. of CO2 per year.
» Reuse. Instead of replacing items, fix them. Reuse plastic shopping bags for rubbish, garage sales or to carry your lunch. Simply switching to reusable cleaning products like sponges instead of paper towels saves 5 kg / 11 lb. of CO2 a year.
» Remove yourself from junk mail lists: Your mailbox is stuffed full of CO2 every day. Junk mail is more than just a nuisance: 1 million trees are used to create junk mail each year, which are transported via CO2–emitting vehicles The average adult gets 19 kg of junk mail per year. If you cut down on this waste, you can save up to 104 kg / 230 lb. of CO2 every year.
Making things from scratch consumes large ammounts of energy (CO2 is generated), to mine, log, sow, harvest, mill, grind, refine, pump, move, store, transport, pack… Recycling uses less enegy.
» Recycling 1 kg / 2.2 lb of aluminium saves up to 6 kg / 13.2 lb. of bauxite, 4 kg / 8.8 lb. of chemical products and 14 kWh of electricity.
In fact, making 1 ton 2204 lb. of aluminum from bauxite gives off around 1300 kg / 2,900 lb. of CO2 plus other air pollutants.
A recycled aluminium can saves enough energy to run a television for three hours.
» Recycling 1 ton of paper saves the same amount of energy as is provided by about 740 litres / 200 gallons of crude oil. On the other hand, burning 1 ton of paper generates about 680 kg / 1,500 lb of CO2 and 27 kg / 60 lb. of other air pollutants.
» Recycling 1 ton of steel saves the energy equivalent of about 370 litres / 100 gallons of oil.
» Recycling 1 ton of glass saves the equivalent in energy of about 37 litres / 10 gallons of oil.
So, at your home, you can…
» Sort cans (aluminium), glass and plastic bottles in appropriate recycling bins. Cardboard boxes, printer paper, newspaper, plastic bags and bottles, milk cartons… a lot of your trash can probably be thrown in the recycling bin instead.
Ink cartridges for your printer have them refilled and reuse them.
» If your car has an air conditioner, make sure its coolant is recovered and recycled whenever you have it serviced. Leakage causes emission of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which damage the ozone layer as well as add to global warming. The CFCs from one auto air conditioner can add the equivalent of 2,178 kg / 4,800 lb. of CO2 emissions per year.
Methane, a gas (natural gas is mostly methane) is responsible for nearly as much global warming as all other non–CO2 greenhouse gases put together. Methane is 21 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than CO2, most methane is generated in the gut of livestock bred for food.
Livestock is responsible for 18% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalents. By comparison, all transportation emits 13.5% of the CO2, the impact of cattle’s digestive gases is evident.
Cutting down on meat (primarily cows, chickens, and pigs) and increasing vegetable consumption can help curb these emissions.
A diet of 30% meat, dairy and poultry produces 1,485 kg / 3,274 lb. of CO2 each year, but a vegetarian diet generates only half of that. Animal flatulence, processing, packaging and transportation of products are to blame. If you replace red meat with fish, eggs and poultry, you can save more than 430 kg / 948 lb. of CO2 a year. Alternately, eat meat–free meals every other day for a 215 kg / 474 lb. of CO2 savings.
» Plant a tree (1): Trees are attractive, cheap, help with energy costs and reduce the CO2in our air. They provide cooling shade and absorb CO2 from the atmosphere while creating oxygen. Planting a tree native to your region in your garden can save 2,268 kg / 5000 lb of CO2 per year. If you're really a go–getter try planting 10 trees per year and save 22,680 kg / 50,000 lb of CO2. If you don't have room for 10 trees at home, offer to plant them for your friends, family and neighbours.
» Plant a tree (2): plant a shade trees and paint your house a light color if you live in a warm climate, or a dark color if you live in a cold climate. Reductions in energy use resulting from shade trees and appropriate painting can save up to 2,400 kg / 5290 lb. of CO2 emissions per year in addition those mentioned above.
» Use a mechanical lawn mower: Get rid of your petrol powered mower, use a push mower. Get some exercise, save petrol money and save the environment by switching to a push mower. You'll save 36 kg / 80 lb of CO2 in a year.
» Compost food and garden waste: for every kilogram of waste you throw out, you produce 1 kg of CO2. An average household throwing out 1 dustbin’s worth of waste every week emits 1,400kg of CO2 a year. You can cut this figure by 20% if you compost all kitchen and garden waste.
» Swap the garden hose for a water butt: greenhouse gas emissions per litre of water treated and supplied to customers: 0.00029kg CO2 equivalent (0.0005 lb per gallon). Installing a water butt saves on average 1,940 litres / 520 gallons of water per year.
» Drinking water has to be processed, pumped through filters, sedimentation and coagulation tanks, storage tanks and pipes. This uses energy and generates CO2. By cutting waste (closing the tap when not in use, while you’re brushing your teeth or shaving; fixing drips and leaks) you save energy.
Greenhouse gas emissions per litre of water treated and supplied to customers: 0.00029kg CO2 equivalent (0.0005 lb per gallon).
» Rain water can keep your garden fit. Cut down on watering and save energy.
» Don’t Drink Bottled Water at Home. Disposable plastic water bottles are made from petroleum and tens of millions are thrown into landfills every day.
» Install a save–a–flush in your bathroom: Installing a save–a–flush saves 2,000 litres / 540 gallons of water a year.
Cars and driving
Our cars release over a tonne of CO2 each year for every man, woman and child.
» When you are using your car drive with style, keep your distance, drive smoothly and minimise the amount of breaking and accelerating you have to do. It can save you about 13% of your fuel costs.
» Every journey under 4.8 km / 3 miles that you decide not to use the car for will save about 2 kg / 4.4 lb. CO2. During short journeys, particularly those under 1.6 km / 1 mile, an engine uses twice as much fuel when it is cold. Walk or cycle instead and it will improve your health and your waistline.
» Check your revs (manual shift) changing up before 2,500 revs per minute (rpm) for petrol engines or 2,000 rpm for diesel engines.
» Try to anticipate road conditions.
» Use air conditioning sparingly.
» Obey all speed limits, but be aware that the most efficient speed is between 72 – 88 km per hour / 45–55 miles per hour. On the highway, every 8 km/h – 5 mph you drive over 104 km/h – 65 mph represents a 7% decrease in fuel economy.
» Drive away immediately when starting from cold – idling the engine increases wear and wastes fuel.
» Remove accessories like roof racks , boxes and bike carriers: they affect the car’s aerodynamics increasing drag. Remove excess weight from car trunk. All the little things cluttering up your car can add up (every 45 kg / 100 lb. in the trunk will reduce your fuel economy by 1 to 2%).
»Plan routes so that you can avoid congestion, roadworks or getting lost.
» Check tyre pressure regularly; not only are under–inflated tyres dangerous, they can increase a car’s fuel consumption by 3%. (and save 114 kg / 251 lb. of CO2 every year).
» If you are stuck in traffic congestion and expect to be there for more than one or two minutes, switch off the engine.
» Combine errands. A little planning can make a big difference in fuel economy. When your engine is cold, it uses more fuel than when it is warm. Combining errands can improve your gas mileage because your engine will be warm for more of the trip. It might also mean you travel less total miles. Several short trips with a cold start engine can use twice as much fuel as a single, longer trip covering the same distance. Try doing one weekly supermarket shop, not three: save hundreds of miles driven a year.
» Use the Highest Gear Possible. When you are cruising at a steady speed, such as on the highway.
» Think Clean. A washed and waxed car improves aerodynamics and therefore affects fuel economy by up to 7% on a long trip.
» Running your air conditioner does cause your vehicle to consume more fuel, but driving with your windows rolled down can be even worse due to the increase of drag on the vehicle. If you are driving slowly, such as around town or in city traffic, then you are better off leaving your windows open, if at all possible. For highway driving, roll up the windows and turn the air conditioning on.
» Car pool.
Some other CO2 busting measures…
Measures that will cost you in time and money to do but will save you money in the long run and reduce carbon emissions.
» Change your electricity to a green energy tariff (be sure that it is for the supply of energy from renewable sources). Some tariffs are no different in cost to regular ones.
» When your appliances (such as washing machines or fridge freezers) need replacing purchase an "A" rated energy efficient one. This can save you up to 150kg / 331 lb. of CO2 a year, it will cost you a bit more, but you will recoup those costs through reduced electricity bills .
» Fit low energy light bulbs where you can. For each bulb you will save about 80 kg / 176 lb. CO2 each year. They will also last for many years before needing to be replaced.
» Draughtproofing windows, doors and your loft hatch (if you have one), you will save about 100 kg / 220 lb. of CO2 a year.
» Make sure your loft insulation is at least 200 mm / 8" thick. A poorly insulated loft could be losing you up to 25% of your heating.
» Install double glazed windows: Double glazed windows are made up of two glass panels with a space in between. This space is generally filled with air or gasses that can help with insulation. They also often have a UV coating, which can be customised to your climate. Cold regions can use a UV coating that maximises the warmth of the sun, while those in hot areas can employ a UV coating that keeps heat out. If you switch 6 medium to large windows to double pane this year, you could save a whopping 4,536 kg / 10,000 lb. of CO2.
» Update the insulation of your home: Updating your home’s insulation can add up to big CO2 and financial savings. In just one year, updated wall and ceiling insulation can save 907 kg / 2,000 lb. of CO2. Think about the savings over the life of your home. Just 5 years with updated insulation will save up to 4,535 kg / 10,000 lb of CO2. If you caulk and weather–strip your doorways and windows, add another 454 kg / 1,000 lb. of CO2.
» Switching off the lights overnight in an empty meeting room throughout the year can save 440 kg / 970 lb. CO2
» Replacing standard fluorescent lights in a typical 10,000 m2(108,000 sq. ft) office with energy efficient lamps and electronic ballasts and adding sensors could save 135 Tonnes of CO2 per year.
» Properly calibrated lighting controls in a 15m / 50 ft – long corridor can save 250 kg / 551 lb. CO2.
» Switching off a photocopier at night and at weekends can save 20 kg / 44 lb. of CO2 a month.
» A monitor uses 3 times more energy when it is switched on than while on standby, CRT monitors use twice as much energy and emit twice as much heat as flat LCD monitors
» Ensuring that chargers and power supplies in offices are unplugged when not charging has no costs and can save up to 10% on energy bills.
If 20 people commit to plug in their chargers only when charging their phones, it will save 1000 kg / 2204 lb. CO2 per year.
Switching off or unplugging a microwave has no costs and will save 80 kg of CO2 per year.
» A 10°C / 18°FC reudction in the setting of the thermostat has no costs and could reduce energy bills by as much as 10%.
Recycling paper; recycling 1 tonne of paper is equivalent to providing heat and hot water for a home for a year. It also saves 15 trees, 2.5 barrels of oil, 2.26 m3 / 80 cu ft. of landfill spaces, 31,000 gallons / 115,000 litres of water and 27kg / 59 lb. of air pollutants.
» Setting double–sided copying feature as default on the copier can save 1500 kg / 3307 lb. of CO2 per year.
Business and community
» Work with your employer to implement these and other energy–efficiency and waste–reduction measures in your office or workplace. Form or join local citizens' groups and work with local government officials to see that these measures are taken in schools and public buildings.
» Keep track of the environmental voting records of candidates for office. Stay abreast of environmental issues on both local and national levels, and write or call your elected officials to express your concerns about energy efficiency and global warming.
Carbon footprint calculators help you measure your impact on our climate:
World Resources Institute has a carbon dioxide calculator.
American Forests has a carbon dioxide calculator.
The National Energy Foundation UK, Advice – carbon dioxide calculator.
Bonneville Environmental Foundation carbon dioxide calculator.
CO2 Argentina in the global context
Argentina generated 133,264 thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide (2002) , equivalent to 0.6% of the world’s total output. Argentina has a reasonable ranking (26th) among countries emitting CO2. Considering Argentina’s population, its per capita contribution to global warming is of 3.63 ton (2004), where it ranks 90th out of 211 countries listed. 
As an example, other countries’ carbon dioxide emissions are shown below:
In ton of CO2/person 
23.66 ton United States
21.90 ton Canada
12.60 ton Russia
11.95 ton Germany
10.90 ton United Kingdom
10.22 ton European Union
9.28 ton France
8.86 ton Japan
8.14 ton Sweden
3.63 ton Argentina [*]
[*] Argentina's figures includes Malvinas Islands (Falklands) emissions.
CO2More information on climate change
UNEP - United Nations Environment Programme Climate Change
Argentina - Climate Change (In Spanish)
China - Climate Change Network
EU - European Commission Climate Change
US - Global Change Research
Australia - Climate Change
Copyright 2009-2010 by Austin Whittall ©
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