Run Your Carbon Footprint Against the World’s

black footprintMy feet are big, at US women’s size 10, but my footprint is enormous. See how yours compares to other nations in the world                                                       

Drop a teabag in a mug, add boiled water, and in the time it takes to brew, you can calculate your carbon weight. Trust me – you’ll need a comforting drink when you see your results. A  free and simple to use carbon calculator is available on the Carbon Footprint website that tabulates your carbon imprint in a matter of minutes, and benchmarks it against performances of your country, of industrial nations, and of the entire world.

I tried it and got a footprint of 9.88 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Low for an American, but astronomical for a resident of Jordan.

I don’t drive a car (use an employee bus) and my family lives simply in a small-ish apartment. With too-easy access to amazing local food, we aren’t tempted by pricey ex-pat import stores. We recycle to the limited extent possible in Amman but I blow the bank on air travel.  Are you curious to see how you measure up?

Your carbon footprint is the sum of all carbon dioxide (CO2) gas emissions caused by your daily activities in a given time frame. The figure’s usually expressed in tons and calculated over a year.  Most everyday actions use energy and produce CO2 emissions, simple stuff like showering, cooking, reading this article on a computer. Sipping that cuppa is carbon-neutral; shipping the tea to your market and heating the kettle are not.

I’ll show you my footprint if you’ll show me yours.

Here’s what resulted when I pressed “calculate”:

“Your footprint is 9.88 metric tons per year.

  • The average footprint for people in Jordan is 3.07 metric tons.
  • The average for the industrial nations is about 11 metric tons.
  • The average worldwide carbon footprint is about 4 metric tons.
  • The worldwide target to combat climate change is 2 metric tons.”

Compared to calculators I’ve used on the job, this freebie is fairly sophisticated. It calculates primary emissions based on a broad array of conversion factors sourced from carbon research powerhouses like the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA); the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Energy (DOE); Canada’s Standards Association (CSA) Greenhouse Gas Registries; and the World Resource Institute (WRI) Greenhouse Gas Protocol.

A total footprint sums your primary and secondary emissions. Primary are the fossil fuels we burn to heat and cool our buildings and power our travel; secondary are associated with the lifecycle of products and services we use (the energy used to produce, package, transport, and dispose of them).  

This calculator bases secondary emissions on generalized estimates, so your true figures will differ from the numbers produced here.  But it’s still a great indicator of where you stand in your own zip code, against your industrialized cousins, and in the world.

My guess is your number won’t incite you to reforest a tundra or build a windfarm, but increased awareness of our individual carbon performance might prompt a tiny shift in how we live.  And (insert Green groan) every big journey begins with a few small steps.

Carbon Footprint Ltd. is a private consultant offering carbon management services.

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