How to measure and manage your carbon footprint

Can people manage their personal carbon budget in the same way they might manage their personal finances?

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This time last  year, there were several events looking at climate change:

‘Our Fragile Earth’, climate change events this autumn – Vision Group for Sidmouth

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And in one of the talks, Prof Golding looked at what we as individuals can do to mitigate the effects of climate change – or even to reduce our impact on the climate:

Climate change: what can I do? – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Climate Change: So, What Do We Do? – Vision Group for Sidmouth

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Prof Golding has forwarded an interesting look at this from the last month:

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How well do people understand the climate impact of individual actions?

Misunderstandings in the relative efficacy of pro-environmental behaviors may have important consequences for climate mitigation efforts. In this study, we evaluate the ability to perceive the carbon footprint associated with individual actions, known as “carbon numeracy”…

How well do people understand the climate impact of individual actions? | SpringerLink

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People are pretty bad at balancing their personal carbon budgets

They might go to a lot of trouble to make changes that have a marginal impact at best

People are often willing to make an effort to fight climate change, but they don’t always know which actions are most effective in shrinking their own carbon footprint, a new study suggests.

They tend to overestimate the climate impact of actions like carrying reusable bags, for example, and underestimate the greenhouse gas emissions associated with air travel and eating meat, researchers report in Climatic Change. That raises the possibility that people might go to a lot of trouble to make changes that have a marginal impact at best – while ignoring those that could make a bigger difference.

The researchers set out to assess ‘carbon numeracy,’ meaning people’s knowledge of the relative carbon impact of different behaviors and ability to make tradeoffs between them. Essentially, can people manage their personal carbon budget in the same way they might manage their personal finances?

The good news is that many people’s performance improved on this test when they were given numerical information to help them make the tradeoff. This suggests that people know how to balance a carbon budget conceptually, they just don’t know the actual carbon cost of their daily activities.

Many underestimate carbon impact by budgeting incorrectly

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Here are some good places to give you that numerical information:

carbonfootprint.com – Carbon Footprint Calculator

What is a carbon footprint? | Carbon Footprint Calculator

Carbon Footprint Calculator

   
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