martes, 9 de julio de 2013

Carbon Footprint

I saw this because of my English course homework (we touch several topics, environment is one of them) and I just got curious: If 2 metric tons of CO2 is the target to combat climate change, let's estimate what I would have to do.

First of all, transport. The office I work for is 50 km apart from my house, so I use the train to get there. It's about 100 km each day I go to work. A year has 260-261 weekdays, I have about 24 holiday and around  4-6 national holidays, so let's say I go to and back 230 days. Then I travel 23000 km by train, so that's 1.34 tons a year.

Second, banking. If a have the normal banking products (I guess that means an account and a credit/debit card) That adds 0.4 tons a year.

Household: I have not the exact figures right now, so let's say my wife and I are the average couple and spend 2400 kWh of electricity and 3700 kWh of natural gas (we're living in Spain) That's 0.45 metric tons because of electricity and another 0.34 tons of natural gas.
I'm already out by 25% (2.54 tons) and everything else is ideal, but what is ideal?
  • I use 0 heating oil, propane, coal, etc
  • I don't use planes, car, motorbike, bus or any other transport but the train (only to and from work), bicycle and my own two feet.
  • I am a vegan and grow my own (always season) fruits and vegetables without using any agents but compost created by my own wastes.
  • I never buy anything that is packaged
  • I only buy second hand clothes, electronics and appliances
  • Everything I use gets recycled or composted
  • My only recreation activities are zero carbon ones, like go cycling and walking
All right, so if I do only those things, then I'm off by only a 25%. How could I fix that? Well, I have to work. Maybe I don't strictly need a bank, but I prefer to get my pay check through a bank than in cash. I mean, to go in the street with more than a thousand euros in cash every month is too much emotion, considering the risk to be robbed, to lose it or even to fall in a puddle and spoil it.
So, I only have the household. Then I have to change from 0.8 to 0.26 tons worth of consumption, so I just need to use 1/3 of the average energy a person uses in Spain.

Now I have a goal, so what do I have to do to get it? According with this, if we implement every measure the UE has designed to improve efficiency, I'll manage to reduce the CO2 produced by my household in 27% by 2020, but that's not enough. I could deceive myself and say that I've only left of 35%, but since that reduction is more like .73% x(my reduction)% = 33%, I still have to go down by 45% (and that's considering I give myself room until 2020) Then I found this.
  • I stop using air conditioning
  • I can turn off everything instead of using stand by - 3%
  • I can stop watching TV and using computers (like the one I'm using right now and the one you're using right now - 5%
  • I'm not using again the washing machine, the dishwasher and of course the dryer - 7%
  • No more oven for me - 2%
18%. Let's look for the other 27% of the energy I consume, because I'm going to need the fridge and freezer, since I have to keep things as fresh as possible (remember, I grow my own food). I can split it between heating and hot water, and then spend half the winter without them, that's 29%.

So that's how you do it:
  • Go to and back from work by train and go nowhere else if not by bicycle or on foot
  • You can keep your bank accounts
  • Don't go anywhere on holiday
  • Don't go anywhere you need a transport to go to
  • Forget the last 10 thousand years of evolution or so that made omnivorous from us and become a vegan: no fish, no meat, no eggs
  • Grow your own food and always season vegetables. By the way, unless you're mean temperatures are in the range of 20ºC-30ºC and alluvial soil, forget soy
  • Never buy anything that is packaged
  • Buy only seond hand clothes
  • Buy only second hand electronics and appliances
  • Recycle everything inorganic (like broken electronics parts) and composte everything organic (like your food wastes or your own bodily wastes)
  • When you're not working (either at office or at your self-independent orchard, go for a walk or cycle
  • Don't use stand by
  • Get rid of your TV and computers
  • Sell your oven, washing machine, dishwasher and dryer
  • Never use air conditioning
  • Spend half the winter without heating and with cold showers only
  • Wait until 2020 or, as an alternative, give up completely heating and hot water
Probably you all will see this is something perfectly possible and if all of us follow these simple guidelines, the battle against climate change will be won. But... This works if all of us do it, and that means every and each person will use only second hand clothes and electronics, so who's gonna have first-hand things for the rest to have second-hand? OK, so buy new clothes, electronics and such only when you need them, and use them until they broke beyond fix. That's only 0.02 tons a year and you can offset it with a 2.5% of your energy consumption. That's half the light you use in your house, so get up after sunrise and go to bed at dawn. You'll use only even less than half the light (when you go into the bathroom or the parts of your house without big enough windows) Then, what if you can't produce all your food? Maybe you don't know how, maybe you haven't enough soil or compost. But be aware, by buying food, even only locally produced food, you're raising your footprint by 0.04 ton, so you have to eat raw half your food. Now we have a realistic plan that I'll copy here for ease of use:
  • Go to and back from work by train and go nowhere else if not by bicycle or on foot
  • You can keep your bank accounts
  • Don't go anywhere on holiday
  • Don't go anywhere you need a transport to go to
  • Forget the last 10 thousand years of evolution or so that made omnivorous from us and become a vegan: no fish, no meat, no eggs
  • Grow your own food and always season vegetables. If unavoidable, you can buy locally produced organic vegetables and fruits. By the way, unless you're mean temperatures are in the range of 20ºC-30ºC and alluvial soil, forget soy
  • Never buy anything that is packaged
  • Buy only seond hand clothes. If unavoidable, buy new clothes without packaging
  • Buy only second hand electronics and appliances. If unavoidable, buy essential new electronics and appliances without packaging (good luck on this one, but remember that even if you buy things with very little packaging you're raising your footprint by 0.8 tons a year. You'd have to go to work half the days and give up electricity, gas, oil, wood, coal and any other energy completely)
  • Recycle everything inorganic (like broken electronics parts) and composte everything organic (like your food wastes or your own bodily wastes)
  • When you're not working (either at office or at your self-independent orchard, go for a walk or cycle
  • Don't use stand by
  • Get rid of your TV and computers
  • Sell your oven, washing machine, dishwasher and dryer
  • Never use air conditioning
  • Spend half the winter without heating and with cold showers only
  • Wait until 2020 or, as an alternative, give up completely heating and hot water
  • Get up not before sunrise and go to bed before dawn so you save the electricity you use in light
  • Eat raw half your food
Try the calculator, start like this, and see what you'd have to do to really combat climate change instead of only soothe your guilt feeling
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