The Carbon Footprint Calculator (Version: 2.1 as of this post) is a small and simple tool that helps act as a rough guide to how much Carbon Dioxide emissions a person or household is responsible for.
Environmental concerns and the issue of climate change are often debated and mentioned, even here on RGdot.com, and some of us believe that the time for debate has long passed and we must act quickly to ensure a better and healthier future. That debate aside, The Carbon Footprint Calculator provides rough estimates and is educational at least.
It asks and uses numbers for fuel efficiency of owned vehicle(s), total distance driven, flown, traveled by rail and by bus in one year. Other numbers used for the calculation are the amount of electricity, gas and oil used. More curiously it also asks about the types of bank accounts one uses, the type of clothes one buys and also about the types of appliances purchased and recreational and food eating habits too. The final result is given in the standard unit for emissions, tons. The program is free of spyware – this can be checked on softpedia.com for example – and it does not ask any personal details so it is safe to just play around with it.
Reports can be printed and/or saved in its own cfc format and a details or summary pie chart is generated too. The Carbon Footprint Calculator is good for a simple look at what harm each of us do to our planet.
Burning fossil fuels has contributed immensely to the problem of climate change or global warming as some call it. It is clear that some countries have contributed far more in terms of pollution and emissions. One of the big political debates hampering progress in the ‘climate debate’ is the acceptance of the share of responsibility and any extra costs for those more responsible. In the final analysis important conferences like the upcoming Copenhagen 15 or COP15 need to produce near term and tangible results if we are to survive.
The Washington Post science section has produced an interactive global emissions chart. Using the chart it is possible to visualize pollution levels per country or region since 1950 and track changes through the decades to the present time by using a slider. No prizes for guessing the present top 2 or top 3 polluters.
Click to view the chart: Explore changes in carbon emissions from fossil fuels for G-20 countries, selected developing nations and others critical to the climate debate.
Svante Arrhenius (Feb. 19, 1859 – Oct. 2, 1927) was a Swedish scientist and Nobel Prize winner in 1903. His earliest works were on electrolytes and later in life he turned to astronomy and origins of life but along the way he worked on predicting the effects of CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) on the Earth’s atmosphere.
He studied the works of French scientist Joseph Fourier, who had earlier predicted surface temperature increases, and worked on predicting how much they would affect the Earth. He even went as far as saying that it may possible to prevent the next ice age with the increases in emissions. One of his main conclusions was that doubling CO2 levels, plus the water vapour that will be held in the atmosphere partially as a result, could cause a 5 to 6 degree centigrade rise in surface temperatures. His conclusions were long term, he had cited 3000 years as a time line for example, and he even viewed it as a positive because the Earth’s climate would be less harsh or cold as a result. In the late 20th century his work has had him called the father of climate change for the predictions that he made and is one of the basis for the more modern and accurate climate change models.
Read more about him at his entry at the Britannica online encyclopedia, at the Nobel Prize site, wikipedia and a feature article on the guardian newspaper website.
Carbon Neutrality is a concept of reducing or balancing the amount of greenhouses gases released into the atmosphere. Massive evidence points to fossil fuels causing extreme harm to the environment and while some voices of propaganda or even legitimate scientists do not agree the evidence seems to confirm extreme dangers. Even if the dangers are overblown there is no denying that city life where fumes and other pollutants are very much present has detrimental effects on each human’s health.
Many worldwide or United Nations (and other organizations) sponsored meetings and summits have been convened to reach a worldwide (or close to worldwide) agreement on controlling the release of CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) and other so-called greenhouse gases that at the very least have local health effects. The Kyoto Protocol is the most famous and perhaps the most criticized. It is however local governments and nations that have taken things into their hands and try to do their part in virtual unilateral fashion. Over the past few years Costa Rica, Norway, Maldives, New Zealand and Maldives and some others have set their own targets of becoming carbon neutral under an UN initiative called the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). While some concepts such as selling carbon credits might be questionable as to shift the problem elsewhere for cash it is still commendable and necessary that some form of concrete action is being taken by countries that may not even be the richest.
Costa Rica’s example seems to be the most ambitious by setting a target of 2021, the country’s 200th anniversary, for becoming carbon neutral. Others like Norway have set dates like 2050 as a target. Such things as moving forward and increasing existing hydroelectric power generation, starting or adding to wind power and solar power generation projects are all steps that help and have long term and short term benefits. Other steps such as halting deforestation add to the arsenal by adding carbon consuming plants. Removing pollutants from the assembly lines and the roads help as well.
As one concrete example one can look to the the introduction of electric cars into a market place. Recently the India based REVA Electric Car Company (RECC) entered the Costa Rican market and will sell its electric car in that country. Initiatives like this that include profits will help bit by bit and the chances of improving our health and most certainly the well-being of the planet are increased.