Carbon footprints are estimated in g CO2 equivalents, the metric used to measure carbon emissions. There are also other greenhouse gases like methane, which trap heat at a lower concentration than carbon dioxide but have more impact per unit of gas. For example, one molecule of methane is equivalent to 28 carbon dioxide molecules.
All our activities leave an impact on the environment. The carbon footprint is a simple way to measure this impact. The size of a carbon footprint is dependent on a number of factors, the primary of which is the amount of greenhouse gases we emit. Whether we are driving to work or wasting energy by heating our homes, we leave a carbon footprint. Carbon footprints can be large or small, but the larger the footprint, the greater the strain on the environment.
Consuming meat and other animal products increases our carbon footprint per calorie. Livestock like cattle produce methane gas, which is one of the major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. In 2016, beef alone produced over one hundred million metric tons of methane, which ended up in the atmosphere. Meats that contain a lot of pesticides also increase the carbon footprint. Processed food also has a larger carbon footprint than fresh foods. In addition to transportation, it also requires additional packaging.
Carbon footprints are also useful in assessing manufacturing energy use. They provide an overview of energy use and emissions, and can be used as a benchmark for improvement in energy efficiency. They can also serve as a tool for opportunity analysis. Emissions data from the EIA are used to calculate emissions of greenhouse gases.
Carbon footprints can be reduced by adopting more efficient habits and reducing energy use. For example, changing your lifestyle can make a big difference in your carbon footprint, especially if you switch to public transportation. For corporations, installing energy-efficient lighting and insulation can also help reduce their carbon footprint, as can using renewable energy sources.
Carbon footprints of individual cities are calculated by dividing national emissions by the number of households or individuals living in a city. The results of the calculations can be compared to national and global averages. Carbon footprints can be measured in tons of CO2 emissions. The calculator takes 30 seconds to complete. After you complete the calculation, read the next section of the article to learn more about the methods for reducing one’s carbon footprint.