Popular media has been talking about “carbon footprints” for the last few years, but what exactly is a carbon footprint? Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines it as “the negative impact that something (as a person or business) has on the environment ; specifically : the amount of carbon emitted by something during a given period.” A carbon footprint is simply a measurement of your impact on the Earth.
There are many carbon footprint calculators in the internet. I decided to try out a few to see what my carbon footprint was on different sites and compare the results. Here is a sampling:
- Your footprint is 4.71 tonnes per year
- The average footprint for people in United States is 20.40 tonnes
- The average for the industrial nations is about 11 tonnes
- The average worldwide carbon footprint is about 4 tonnes
- The worldwide target to combat climate change is 2 tonnes
- 13 – Your Estimated Emissions (1 person household)
- 27 – United States Average per Person(1 person household)
- 5.5 – World Average per Person
- Your Total : 5.45 tons
- The national average is 7.5 tons per year
- The national The average American emits: 9.44 tons CO2/yr
- You emit: 4.6 tons CO2/yr
*results are in global acres
- 25,908 lbs of CO2 per year or 6,477 pounds of CO2 per year per household member
- 83,000 pounds is about average in the United States for a household of four people over a year.
*Note: This site uses pounds, whereas the previous sites calculated in tons. In tons, my average carbon footprint would be 3.24 tons.
I found a clear difference between the different sites. Surprisingly, there are more sites available for me to use as well. One difference I found in the sites is that some were very brief – only asking me about household energy use, car trips and airplane flights. Other sites asked me additional information, such as how much of my food was grown locally. By far, my favorite site was http://www.myfootprint.org/en/ . The site was thorough in its questions without taking hours, and as you answered it updated your result in that category versus your country’s average. Each page also had links to how you can reduce your footprint. When the quiz was finished, it provided you with detailed graphs and tables that make it easier to visually understand your result. This site is a bit different in that it tells you your ecological footprint, which is how many global acres your lifestyle requires. Your ecological footprint includes your carbon footprint, but the addition of other categories makes the end result more relevant (how many Earths we would need if everybody lived a similar lifestyle to yourself).
***Please leave a comment if you have a favorite carbon footprint calculator.