The Carbon Footprint Calculator

Most people are now well aware that we have a problem with Climate Change and that we need to do something about it but the questions are: how serious is the problem and what can I do?

There are many sites which give suggestions for what we can do as individuals to reduce our use of energy and for those who live in Shankill we have made suggestions through SCAN of small actions that we can all do to reduce our carbon footprint, but does it make much difference?

In order to help in understanding how big the problem is and what we might change in order to further reduce our carbon footprint we can calculate how much carbon dioxide we produce in a year and what aspects of our lifestyle contribute most. Although it is almost impossible for us, here in Ireland, to reduce our footprint to a sustainable level in the short term it is important that we understand how much we need to do, both as individuals and as a nation.

On average, each individual in Ireland has a carbon footprint which is 20 times bigger that someone living in Africa and when you add other sources of CO2 from which we benefit, such as roads, public lighting, water purification, most of which goes down the drain, sewerage treatment and transport we are nearly 100 times worse than an African.

The Link to the carbon footprint calculator will help to show how big is our personal footprint. It will be immediately clear that there are certain activities which contribute significantly and which we can control: Private transport and whether we could use public transport instead, how many air trips we make, the energy we use in our houses and the source and type of  food we eat.

It is critically important that we take control, as best we can, of our footprint, Firstly as a matter of justice, since we are the ones who do the polluting but those in the more fragile parts of the world are those who do the suffering as a result of climate change. And secondly because if we don’t the world’s climate will change so radically that life as we know it will become a thing of the past with Food shortages, large parts of the world becoming uninhabitable and increased frequency and severity of extreme weather events everywhere. Life becomes impossible if temperature and humidity prevent one from controlling body temperature.

According to the IPCC we have 12 years to reduce our carbon use by 45% and it must be phased out by 2050 if we are to have any chance of keeping climate change within bounds. Individually this will be extremely difficult to manage which is why it is essential that the Government takes a much more serious approach than they have done so far. It appears either that they do not understand the severity of the threat or that they are almost completely under the influence of short term commercial pressures.

These two articles give a useful introduction to the IPCC report and the challenges we all face:

The Economist

Renewable Energy World

Please use the footprint calculator and see what changes you can make to help in saving the world.