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Carbon Calculator

Author: Brenda Martin - Director: Project 90x2030

( Article Type: Explanation )

The resources we use and greenhouse gases emitted through our lifestyle choices are exceeding the capacity of life support systems of Earth. Carbon Dioxide is a naturally occurring gas crucial to life, but is also the main greenhouse gas contributing to Global Warming.
Understanding which aspects of your lifestyle have the greatest impact on the environment is an important step toward reducing your carbon footprint and a carbon footprint calculator will help you work out the carbon emissions attached to different aspects of your day to day activities. A carbon calculator is a guide to understanding a very complex topic and none can claim to be 100% accurate but a good one will give you a reasonably reliable indication of “ which aspects of your lifestyle - travel, food, waste or energy - are most carbon intensive and where your own best carbon footprint reduction efforts should be focused.
Before you measure your carbon footprint have a look at the assumptions the calculator has been based on as a carbon calculator is only as good as the assumptions it is based on. Assumptions can be based on a vast range of variables that take into account most carbon impacts along the route a product or service takes to reach you. Or they can be based on a very narrow and simplified range of assumptions that take into account only a few variables and provide you with a less than reliable indication of your personal carbon footprint.

For example a carbon calculator for food may be based on an assumption that a vegetarian diet has a smaller carbon footprint than a meat one, but sustainable agricultural practices and local purchase of meat and reduced intake of meat can substantially reduce a meat diet carbon footprint. Equally, eating organically grown vegetables out of season that are flown in from far away can substantially increase your vegetarian diet carbon footprint. Assumption data can also vary widely by source (usually due to differing studies or geographic locations) so before you use a calculator you should decide if you want a reasonably accurate indication of your personal carbon footprint or whether you simply want a measurement that is based on a simple set of assumptions footprint and once you understand which aspects of your carbon footprint require your attention, you can begin to make changes and check in periodically with the calculator to see what has changed. It is important to compare apples with apples, so if you begin to measure your energy carbon footprint on one calculator, you should use that same calculator to work out what progress you have made later on.

Recommended on-line carbon calculators:
Project 90 by 2030 – energy, travel, water, waste, for once off events or variable parameters for households and business – comprehensive; requires some preparation – www.90x2030.org.za/calculator
Credible Carbon – flights & energy – limited but with good assumptions; requires little preparation - www.carbon.org.za
Climate Action Partnership – energy, travel, waste with predetermined parameters - for households; requires some preparation - www.cap.org.za/calculator/ Food and Trees for Africa – travel, electricity, paper; requires little preparation - www.trees.co.za


Associated Topics:

Carbon Dioxide , Carbon Monoxide , Carbon