27 February 2008

Carbon Footprint

As reported in the Guardian, you can calculate your carbon footprint at the UK’s government web site, DirectGov. According to this site, my carbon footprint stinks and it’s all about my commute.

But I knew that.

Living in a New York City apartment, I have smaller appliances, lower heating costs, fewer light bulbs, and the like than people who live in houses. But I leave computer and phone chargers in the wall outlets all the time. I use a laser printer, which turns out to be an energy hog compared to inkjet or dot matrix.

In addition to that, I commute 65 miles each way to work, traveling three or four days a week for 30-odd weeks of the year and logging somewhere over 15,000 miles, and that’s before all the trips north to visit family.

The site recommends that I get a lower CO2 car when I replace my car. Nice idea, but it seems I already have one of the best cars money to buy in the US: according to Treehugger, the Honda Fit is among the twelve greenest cars for 2008.

Worst of all, I estimate that I take one long-haul flight per year. The calculator tells me: "Just one long haul return flight can give you the same (or larger) footprint as driving a car for an entire year." Actually, I go long haul every second or third year, but the calculator doesn't allow that as an option.

The bottom line (with a grain of salt--how accurate are the data I entered?): my carbon footprint, at 10.58 tons per year, compares terribly with the UK national average of 4.48 tons per year. I can rationalize: in the UK they actually have a useable public transit system, which I used along with a bicycle for all of my transportation needs while living there last year. Or I can figure out a way to ride the bus here in the US.