Carbon Footprints

In an effort to reduce my fat hippy carbon footprint, I have been doing a bit of research to see how mine compares to people living in other countries of the world.

I already measure my electricity use, but I’ve decided to keep a log over the next few months of my petrol, tram, train and any other travelling fuel consumption, daily food intake and where the food has come from, and anything else I can think of, to see if there are any areas where I can improve. I am hoping that just the act of keeping the log will make me think more carefully about my choices.

Initial research has turned up some interesting facts though. Wikipedia has a list of countries by per capita carbon footprint:-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions_per_capita

Some interesting ones which jump out are:-

USA – 19 tonnes per person per year
Canada – 16.7 tonnes
Falkland Islands – 17.2 tonnes
Netherlands – 10.3 tonnes
Russia – 10.9 tonnes
UK – 9.4 tonnes
South Africa – 8.6 tonnes
Spain – 8 tonnes
France – 6.2 tonnes
Jamaica – 4.5 tonnes
China – 4.6 tonnes
Brazil -1.9 tonnes
Morocco – 1.5 tonnes
India – 1.3 tonnes
Pakistan – 0.9 tonnes
Kenya – 0.3 tonnes
Myanmar – 0.2 tonnes
Nepal – 0.1 tonnes
Afghanistan – <0.1 tonnes

This is pretty interesting as carbon footprint is, in today’s world pretty much related to quality of life, because it reflects the replacement of manual labour with fossil fuels. So an average UK citizen uses about 94 times the amount of fossil fuel that an average Nepalese uses, and about 5 times what the average Brazilian uses.

Also found this pretty interesting page for calculating the carbon footprint of air travel:-

http://www.chooseclimate.org/flying/mapcalc.html

According to this page, a return flight from London to Morrocco emits about 1.3 tonnes of CO2 per passenger, London to Delhi about 3.3 tonnes and London to Brasilia about 4.1 tonnes. So someone flying from London to Morocco and back uses almost as much energy as an average Moroccan uses in an entire year! Someone flying from London to Delhi and back uses as much energy in doing so as an average Indian uses in about 2 1/2 years of their day-to-day living, and someone flying from London to Brasilia and back uses about as much energy as the average Brazilian uses in around 2 years of life.

I found these statistics quite humbling, it really helped me to realise what a privileged life we lead here in the rich West.

I am trying to find some information on the carbon footprint of various different foodstuffs. I have already found these websites on eating seasonally, which can go a long way towards reducing the amount of food brought in from overseas:-

http://www.eattheseasons.co.uk/
http://www.eatseasonably.co.uk/
http://www.eatseasonally.com/

I already grow some of my own food but I am hoping that learning a bit from these websites will really help me to cut the emissions associated with my ‘food miles’ too – and maybe help me to eat a bit more healthily as well!

Meat production is a big carbon emitter, I spent 10 years of my life as a veggie but I eat meat these days. I try to source it ethically but still try to go without whenever I can. I found this page about the carbon footprint of a cheeseburger:-

http://openthefuture.com/cheeseburger_CF.html

Each burger has a carbon footprint of about 5kg!

This gives some interesting thoughts, a return flight to India is the equivalent of eating 660 cheeseburgers in CO2 emissions! That’s nearly 2 a day for a whole year!!

A bit of a shame that, as I love a tasty cheeseburger. Although hopefully growing the lettuce myself and using home made pickles – or even baking my own buns – might help.

Fascinating stuff. It will be interested to see how my calculations work out – I’ve just started recording my food and petrol consumption today, it hasn’t started well, I’ve bought 15 litres of petrol and eaten a bacon roll, and it isn’t even midday yet.

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