What does Carbon have to do with me?

Updated: Feb 17, 2020

There is a lot of talk about Co2 emissions, greenhouse gases and global warming. But what does that mean for me? How does little me have an impact on all that?

While carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas emitted into the atmosphere through human activities, it’s not the only one. It’s difficult, however, to understand how much GHG emissions are associated with a particular activity if we’re looking at say, methane, ozone, and carbon dioxide measurements related to that activity.

The recent increased accumulation of greenhouse gases by human activity in our atmosphere is what contributes to global warming. The bigger the carbon footprint of any activity, the greater the cumulative contribution to climate change.

If we all make a personal and conscious effort to reduce our carbon footprint, we can be a part of the solution to this climate crisis.

What are the Major Sources of Emissions?

You leave a “footprint” on the environment through every action you take that releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The more you use, the bigger your footprint.

Primary Emission Sources in the U.S.

According to the EPA, the primary sources of GHG emissions are:




Residential and commercial Agriculture

Land use

Why Meat is a not great for the planet.

If you are wondering why lamb, beef, and cheese have the highest emissions? EWG reports that the main reason is that ruminant animals generate “methane through their digestive process” and methane is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Also, “pound for pound, ruminants require significantly more energy-intensive feed and generate more manure than pork or chicken.”

Does air travel really have a big environmental footprint?

There's no way around the fact that flights are bad news for the environment. It's not just that planes are worse than most other forms of transport in terms of the impact of greenhouse gases per passenger mile. Just as important is the simple fact that flying allows us to travel a far greater number of miles than we otherwise could. Thanks to these two factors, individual trips by air can have a remarkably large carbon footprint – which helps explain why aviation has become such a heated issue in the climate change debate.

What is the total impact of flying on the climate?

As the aviation industry is usually keen to point out, planes account for only around 1.5%–2% of global CO2 emissions. However, this figure is somewhat misleading. For one thing, most flights are taken by the wealthy, so in developed countries the slice of CO2 emissions caused by flying is higher – around 6.3% in the UK, according to Department for Transport figures for 2005. Even this figure underplays aviation's environmental footprint, however, and not just because the number of flights has risen since 2005.

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