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OUR CARBON FOOTPRINT

V. Ryan 2008 - 2009

 

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An individuals carbon footprint is a measurement of a persons negative impact on the environment. Everyone has a carbon footprint, it does not only apply to industry and business. It relates closely to the amount of pollution a person creates through the use of energy (for example electricity) and resources such as fossil fuels. Environmental pollution can be created every time we get into a car, bus, train or plane by the burning of fuel. Every time we use something that has been manufactured we also add to our carbon footprint.

 

MANUFACTURED ITEMS AND OUR CARBON FOOTPRINT

 

A person who is concerned about reducing the amount of pollution he/she creates may decide to use a bicycle to get to and from work. However, even transport of this nature leaves a carbon footprint. This is because the bicycle has been manufactured in a factory. The factory has used electricity to power the machines that help make the bicycle. The electricity has been created by burning polluting fossil fuels such as oil and coal. The materials used to manufacture the bicycle have been mined and refined. This uses electrical power produced in power stations by burning fossil fuels, in turn creating more pollution. The materials are transported to the bicycle manufacturing plant in large lorries burning petrol or diesel, again creating pollution. And finally, the bicycle is transported in lorries / delivery vans to the bicycle shop where it is sold. If the bicycle has been manufactured in China and is transported by ship to the UK/Europe again more polluting fuel has been burnt to transport it thousands of miles around the world.

Even a bicycle leaves a carbon footprint. However, transport of this nature leaves a much smaller footprint than a car.

Every manufactured product leaves behind it a carbon footprint whether is a small iPod/mp3 player or a large luxury car. We should aim to reduce our own carbon footprint to the smallest possible amount.

 

HOW IS OUR CARBON FOOTPRINT CALCULATED?

 
   

A carbon footprint is very difficult to measure accurately. Generally it is the amount of greenhouse gases produced in our everyday lives. These gases are normally produced by burning of fossil fuels to produce the electricity or by burning fuel when we use the family car or take public transport.

Complex calculations are used to calculate carbon footprints. To work out your carbon footprint search the internet for a carbon footprint calculator and try it out.

 
 
CARBON FOOTPRINT ESTIMATED COMPARISON
 

A general comparison of the carbon footprint left by a car user compared to a bicycle user can be seen below. The carbon footprint is for a working week of five days only.
If a person uses a bicycle to go to work from home, covering a distance of three miles, the carbon footprint left behind is the equivalent to two foot prints.
If the same person uses a car for the next five days to go to and from work the number of carbon footprints left behind are 1448.
This estimate is based on the fuel burnt by the car during the journey and the amount of energy required to mine and process the materials and machine all the cars parts during its manufacture. This is compared to the amount of energy required to manufacture the bicycle. As the bicycle is much smaller and has fewer manufactured parts and it does not burn petrol of diesel - its carbon footprint is much smaller.

QUESTIONS:

List a range of methods of transport such as car, bus, train, taxi, ship etc.... Put the list in order of highest polluter to the lowest.

   

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