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  • Carol Monson & Mary Stucky

Carbon Footprint

Psalm 24:1 “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it”

God cares for God’s creation; and all of us should care, as well.

 

Why are we writing an article on our carbon footprint? Addressing the problem of global warming is a complex issue. Some people say it's the government’s responsibility, others say it's corporations’, others say we need new innovations, others say if we just educate people, they will take it from there. Others say it's all of these. But how many people are open to saying private citizens can play a part? Many of us live our lives  as if there's no crisis or there's little we can do. In her  book ,The Five-Ton Life, Susan Subak  states that sources outside our control make up 52% of  US emissions.(So that means 48 % is in our control!). The National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) states that while personal action is not a substitute for meaningful government action, we (private citizens ), nonetheless, must limit our carbon pollution. It's important to remember what a vital contribution we can make. The Five-Ton Life also states that maybe we are taking some action, but we are oblivious to our own impact, due to a lack of knowledge about our own personal data-our carbon footprint.






 

This month we are going to talk about carbon footprint and try to answer some questions about it.

 

  1. What is a carbon footprint? It is a method to determine individuals’ and households’ greenhouse gas emissions.


There are Direct Emissions, which can include activities that burn fuel, like

driving cars, using a gas stove, or burning wood.


Then, there are Indirect Emissions, including those created by generating electricity or the greenhouse gases from manufactured goods we purchase and use. The packaging and waste created by those goods, in addition to transporting and shipping them to us create greenhouse gas emissions.


  1. How do we determine our footprint?


Try going to the site: CarbonFootprint.com Calculator for a FREE calculation of our individual and household footprints.


  1. Has anyone asked you about your carbon footprint or have you asked yourself?

  2. Facts about the United States’ footprint:

Though US carbon emissions have been reduced by 11%  since 2010, we still rank as the second highest carbon emitter per year. Here are the rankings:


China – 30.9%

US – 13.9%

India – 7.3%

Russia – 4.7%

Japan – 2.9%


Rich countries, who are the top 10% of emitters,  once averaged about 30 tons per person per year. Happily, we in the US reduced our carbon emissions, and  created 14.4 metric tons of carbon per person in 2022. However, this is still above a sustainable level, as defined in The Climate  Book: The Facts and the Solutions, by Greta Thunberg .

  

          Why is it important to know what our carbon footprint is and seriously

          consider ways of bringing it down?

         

(The rest of the information is from The Five -Ton Life, by Susan Subak – I highly recommend it)


Many people think the solutions will come from government and new innovations like solar panels, and some solutions will. But we individuals have a big part to play.


Greenhouse emissions for American residences and personal transportation are increasing at a faster rate than emissions from industry.


Innovations do not keep up – we just keep consuming more in America. There is so much contagious optimism spilling over from growth in renewables, that many people think the big picture is improving. But emissions from private vehicles, commercial trucks, buses, trains are about 17% higher that 1990 level. Importing consumer goods have increased emissions by as much as 30%.


The size of buildings (such as private residences) has been increasing. Buildings offer the most potential for changing the course of emissions.


Much of professional climate advocacy has focused on educating people on the dangers of climate change instead of helping them to reduce consumption.


What are some important steps we could take? Let’s set a goal of bringing  our footprint down to 5 tons per person per year:


We can scale down on SUVs, air travel, fast fashions, meat consumption.


When searching for a home, we can choose a small house, condo, or apartment.


We can ask other people and see  what they are doing.


We should realize that we may chose different ways to achieve our 5-ton goal!


When looking for a college we can ask about their  greenhouse emissions inventory (Yes, there is such a record for colleges and universities!)

 

For inspiration, we looked at what the author of the Five-Ton Life says about her journey toward a 5-ton existence:

 

She realized that a lower carbon life has not felt like a sacrifice, but more like a welcome structure for her life choices.


She is trying to have no more than one domestic flight per year, and one international flight every 3 years or more.


She enjoys more of a local life, not traveling more than  few hours away from home by rail or road journey.

                

She has invested in an energy efficient car that averages 3 thousand miles per year.


She lives in a condo, and she helped their building reduce their energy usage.

 

We (Carol and Mary) can both  say it's been liberating to work toward living with less carbon emissions and to thereby have a part in caring for God’s earth and everything in it.

 

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1 Comment


gholt1
Mar 16

You've made me think of house-sharing as another way to lessen our carbon footprint. Thank you for the many suggestions.

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