A carbon footprint is identified by on object or activity that causes greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, or the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane, released into the atmosphere as a result of the activity’s of a particular individual, organisation or community. A carbon footprint is usually expressed as a measure of weight, as in tons of C02 or C02 equivalent per year.
Say for example, a spectator drives to a sporting event, they go on their own taking their own car and they burn a certain amount of fuel using their vehicle. The sporting event is expecting over 50,000 spectators each one making their way using various modes of transport, each of these 50,000 spectators will be adding to the carbon footprint. The sporting arena is powered by eons of electricity and has its employees, possibly in the thousands, along with spectators, all driving or using public transport, again each different mode of transport using and making carbon dioxide, resulting in their own carbon footprint. That one sporting event is contributing massively to the carbon footprint and that is just one example of many events taking place worldwide.
As we go through our everyday lives we too are contributing to our carbon footprint without actually realizing. We don’t give it a second thought when we turn on a light, switch on the kettle, power up our tv or spend several minutes soaking in our showers,all of these things adding to our carbon footprint. Meanwhile back at the coal-burning plants, where some of our electricity sources come from, the burning of fossil fuels emit C02, with coal releasing twice as much C02 as petroleum.
Although countries are trying to tackle the amount of C02 emitted for a greener world, with China and India continuing to industrialise, the number of coal burning plants will increase. Currently 41% of emissions in the United States arise from generating electricity. This might give us something to think about the next time we go to switch our kettle on.
Transportation plays a big role, whether it be for business or pleasure. Locomotives are the second largest source of C02 emissions in the United States, going on holidays and traveling for business plays a big part. Another mode of transport adding to the carbon footprint are cruise ships, these reportedly emit 12 times more C02 than any vacations on land.
Industrial manufacturing is essential for our ever growing population but this also emits a huge amount of C02, with steel, iron and cement production being among the worst. Industrial work emits another contributing gas, Nitrus oxide (N20), although in smaller quantities, nitrous oxide is reported to be around 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide and is also released from farming.
In most scenarios, we cant calculate the total number of carbon footprints as a whole due to the lack of knowledge of and data surrounding the complex interactions between contributing factors and processes, contributing factors such as, the natural processes that store or release carbon dioxide.
As humans look to cut back on carbon footprints as a whole, the worlds demand still exists for fossil fuel powered activity’s, there is no getting away from carbon footprints just yet, but gaining more knowledge and striving for a greener world, whether small amounts or large, the activity’s of a particular individual, organisation or community has its own carbon footprint, and can increase or decrease its share.