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  • Rebecca Hammond

    The huge chunk of co2 for air travel makes me angry. This is 1% thinking. Each air trip uses tens of thousands of gallons of fuel. If you fly out of our city, it's all tarsands, piped here thousands of miles. Each airport is surrounded by a 10-mile-or-so ring of death. Seattle's airport is surrounded by an infant death rate twice as high as neighborhoods farther away. Because of where it's placed (high in the atmosphere), because it's mixed with water vapor and because the molecule differs slightly from, say, auto exhaust, plane exhaust is at least twice as potent a climate-warming agent (some sources say 5 times as much).

    To use so much of a fuel the production of which we'd like halted, whether the oil is coming from tarsands, deep gulf, or arctic, is foolish and destructive. If it's immoral to wreck so much of Alberta, it's immoral to use the product. We allow some places, beautiful in their own right, to be totally destroyed so we can fly to others not yet destroyed. Why? For one thing, poor people live near the tarsands. Natives. Their cancer rates are spiking. WE are connected to this and help cause it, every gallon we burn. Shame on us.

    Imagine if, immediately after An Inconvenient Truth came out, we took it seriously and admitted it included us. We stopped this "fossil fuels are wrong, so I sure hope someone comes up with a carbon-free version of my lifestyle soon, because George HW Bush was right, it's not up for negotiation." What a difference we'd see. Now imagine if we keep ignoring the warnings, we keep clicking our tongues and continuing the highest co2 lifestyles the planet has ever seen. Ten years from now, we're going to see a difference, either way.

    The environmental movement has pretended for long enough that OUR carbon doesn't matter. The planet cannot tell the difference between our last fulfilling trip to Bali and the coal from mountaintop removal. Any environmentalist flying is mainlining co2 right where it does the most harm and where no bogus "offset" can ever get to it. We invest in tarsands, arctic drilling, deepwater drilling, every use of oil. But flying the most of all. I don't know how we got so dismissive of the single biggest use of oil in a few hours any human can indulge in. But one round-trip flight and you've pretty much doubled the rest of your year. You've used what a typical European uses to heat for a winter. Two? Now you've doubled MY footprint.

    There are two types of climate deniers. One says it doesn't exist, one says it does, but their co2 somehow doesn't count.

  • Bean Waxler

    Us Right wing capitalist types have been telling you this for three decades now. If the science is acurate, humans would have to bring themselves back to 1930's lifestyles. There could never be fresh fruit more than a few months a year, and citrus fruits could never reach New York. Air mail? Thing of the past. It's ten day, or it's nothing. Internet? Cable TV? Cell phones? they all have to go. Cars with more power than a Geo? Not going to happen. We have no hope of lowering our footprint, even if you ignore the fact that 90% of the human race will never go for it in the first place. Take the politics out of the equasion, and work on defeating global warming (carbon scrubbing, heat displacing) and learning to live with the problem (planned relocations, weather preparedness).

    • Leslie MacKenzie

      90% of the human race ALREADY HAS a lower carbon footprint. If it was possible to "defeat" global warming, we would be doing it. We're not for political reasons, for profit motives, and in many cases because it isn't technologically feasible at this time. Now matter how you look at it, we have to actually change. Failing that, we will not be learning to live with it - we will be dying from it.

  • Lisa Rau Cannon

    I'm so Pinterest-ing this. Your drive and metrics are an inspiration.

  • kerbear8

    I would like to use the images above for part of my ESL class in Spain, where the carbon footprint is not a common conversation topic. Any idea where I can get these?

  • David Gonzales

    Could you please let us know how you calculated your footprint, including stuff, including government services and wars. We should all be able to make such calculations. I just tried the Nature Conservancy calculator on, and the results were radically different than what the results were from the EPA carbon footprint calculator. I would have thought that results from these two would at least be in the same ballpark, but they're not.

      • Dav Clark

        WattzOn as it was had to reorganize when Wesabe went out of business - Wesabe was the source of the financial data. It merged with another company to become the utility consumption focused service that it is today. If you're interested, I'm part of a company creating a similar product at We're trying to incorporate as much as we can learn from Saul and Martha (the woman running WattzOn now)! We're in private beta - but if you'd like, there's a mailing list. We should open to the public in a couple months if all goes according to plan.

      • graceadams830

        I followed your link to wikipedia and found another link to WattzOn and followed that and found another link (lower down than initial screen shot on the initial page--below the fold) to some sort of energy calculator that made me out to be an energy hog. I live in an attic that I rent from my brother-in-law, so I am not free to do much on my own about investing in any improvements. I lucked out and got an income eligible weather-stripping and caulking from CL&P (Connecticut) and a chance to invest in insulation. Fortunately I had the $3k plus needed in matching funds to buy in to that. Apartment is much more comfortable now. My gas heater has no thermostat--only a dial to adjust the flow of gas to the burner with no feedback. It took me a while to find it. I wonder how low I dare turn it. I want to get it as low as possible short of letting the pilot light go out.

  • Corey Condello

    I, also, calculated my footprint a few years back. I've tried to make small changes to decrease my impact such as switching over lightbulbs, using reusable grocery bags, and yes, I fall victim to the Prius fad era, but as you state, it's not just about the small things. It's frustrating to me, that even today with our ever-expanding knowledge of global warming, that it's still not "convenient" to go green, which is what the average non-treehugger, non-environmentalist, non-extremely wealthy person needs in order to make many of the changes that will have a more large-scale impact. We need to find ways to organically weave environmentally-smart technology and practices into daily life that will not drastically change, well, daily life. Does this make sense to others?

    • Bean Waxler

      Yes, and were it an option, we would have done it thirty years ago.

    • graceadams830

      For many living in areas with winters, substituting warm clothing and bed covers for space-heating as much as possible will help more than anything else. Cutting way down on meat helps more than switching to organically grown food. Either walk or stay home and settle for telephone and/or internet for transportation as much as possible also helps.

      • Corey Condello

        These are all really good suggestions. I live in Upstate NY, where we have a 6 month winter. Haha. We keep our heat down as much as possible. We're fortunate enough to have electric heat where we're currently living, which I like to think helps a little. It's virtually impossible to cut down on driving for us. I'm a vegetarian, but I know that this isn't an option for a lot of people. I guess what I was trying to express is that, of course we can all make little changes, and each one counts, but it takes a conscious effort to be eco-conscious, and those who aren't, aren't. I feel as though society almost needs to be "tricked" into being green if we want to reach success on a greater level.

        • Bean Waxler

          Electric heat is extremely inefficient, and is powered by electric companies, which run on coal or diesel. There is probably no worse form of heat for the environment, unless you run on nuclear or some form of natural electric distribution.

          A CFL light bulb or small laptop runs on about 25 watts, an electric blanket at 180. Air conditioner at 800, coffee maker, hair dryer or refrigerator at 1500, water heater at 3000, stove around 5000, and the electric heat for a two bedroom house, about 15,000 watts.

          You can't "trick" people into being green. If it happens, it will happen through great sacrefice and discomfort. If you're looking for an easy solution, or one that won't cost jobs and tax dollars, just stop looking.

          • FarmerGiles

            Thank you for the clause "unless you run on nuclear".
            You also make an excellent point about the substantial wattages for big appliances. It's the ultimate reason why wind turbines are not the solution. A window air conditioner needs 800 W or more. But what astonished me, when I sent a command to my laser printer, was that the 15 Amp fuse for the room circuit blew. In my ignorance, I had the printer and the air conditioner on it. In other words, the instantaneous load exceeded 110x15 W, i.e. 1650 W, or 1.65 kW.

            So all the claims that this or that project "will supply N thousand homes" are probably rubbish. Multiply the nominal capacity by the expected "capacity factor" (CF), and divide by N thousand. For solar, for example, CF is obviously less than 1/2, and unless the project includes sun tracking, it's < 0.33 for clear desert air. The result will probably be around one kW, which means that when the customers turn on their electric cooking devices, the sudden peak demand will be far higher than the annual average.
            You get the same effect when the wind drops, even by a mere 5% of the wind speed.

          • FarmerGiles

            Thank you for the clause "unless you run on nuclear". I say so because it is the only energy resource that was unknown to the people of the 19th century. The official "renewables" are all from 18th century sources, except geothermal, which is great if you live near the Ring of Fire. Actually, it's supplied by the radioactivity of Earth's ancient long lived isotopes, radio-potassium, thorium, and uranium.
            But the really good news is that although fissile isotopes are scarce, the USA gets about 20% of its electric energy from under 100 tons a year of actual fissile fuel. That includes fissile plutonium created within the reactors, which didn't exist when the fuel rods were loaded. There is a reactor design that can produce 100 MW for 20 years using 8% of the 21 ton fuel load.

  • joepmeijer

    Hi Saul, did you use a tool for all the stuff, most carbon calculators blink on stuff, can you tell me what resources you used?

  • Greg Campbell

    Good thinking and calculations. Another step would be to promote positive change development and creativity to minimise or even avoid those dire consequences.

    • graceadams830

      Algae Systems under contract to U S Navy is working on carbon-negative (bio-char is a byproduct and carbon store) bio-diesel to get it cost-competitive with petroleum diesel. Global Thermostat captures CO2 fed to Algae Systems algae, claims cost will fall to $25/metric ton when they get a big enough contract to achieve efficiencies of scale. Since federal government is paying for R&D on bio-diesel they should own licenses and be able to license it to oil firms once it becomes cost-competitive.