Week 8: Fighting Climate Change with Carbonfund.org
The average American’s total annual carbon footprint is a whopping 50,000 pounds a year. That includes emissions from your home, car, air travel, and everything you use. Carbon dioxide is one of the greenhouse gasses that helps keep the Earth warm by absorbing the sun’s energy and redirecting it to the earth’s surface. It traps heat and warms the globe. The surge in carbon dioxide levels due to human activity over the past 100 – 150 years is causing an overall warming of the planet that is having impact on environments around the globe. Human activity may not be the only reason for climate change, but it is a piece of it. Rising temperatures and shifting precipitation patterns are changing the growing patterns of plants. As vegetation shifts wildlife becomes threatened. Seal levels are rising and destroying coastal ecosystems, putting coastal cities at risk. All of this means climate change will effect local economies dependent on land and natural resources.
Our personal carbon footprints may be a very small piece of the puzzle, but we each have the opportunity to be part of the solution. With this in mind I hooked into Carbonfund.org to see what I could do as an individual.
Carbonfund.org’s mission is to create a zerocarbon world by reducing what you can and offsetting what you can’t. They achieve their goals through education, carbon offsets and reductions, and public outreach.
The first thing I did was to calculate my personal carbon footprint. Carbonfund.org’s calculator takes into account all aspects of your daily activity such as electricity, gas, vehicles, air/rail travel, hotel, meals and more.
As an example, the home calculator asks for information such as the number of people in the home, your zip code, and electricity/gas/oil used per year. They provide handy averages to help you do a generic calculation if you do not know what some of your usage figures are. In my case, I was surprised to learn our home generates 12.43 tonnes of CO2 a year annually. I went on to figure out the calculations for other activities as well, such as car and flight.
Once I had the total I clicked the “Offset Now” button to make a donation and offset that portion of my carbon footprint.
So where does the money go? Carbonfund.org is a nonprofit 501(c)(3). When you make a donation, the funds go towards supporting several carbon offset projects that fight against climate change. There are energy efficiency, forestry, and renewable energy projects you can choose to support, or you can let Carbonfund.org choose where your donations go.
- Renewable energy projects focus on shifting away from oil and coal.
- Energy efficiency projects reduce the need to produce more energy now. It includes projects that apply new technology, processes or practices to achieve the same outcome while reducing energy use.
- Forestry projects include reforestation and forest. These projects sequester carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere in trees and soil and have many co-benefits for the community and local wildlife (creates jobs, expands and maintains wildlife habitats, protects biodiversity, improves local environmental quality).
One example is their Truck Stop Electrification Project, which reduces tailpipe emissions from freight trucks transporting consumer goods across the country.
Typically, long-haul truck drivers idle their truck to heat or cool their cab and to use on-board appliances during their rest periods. Engine idling not only creates poor resting conditions for the driver, it consumes fuel, reduces engine life and contributes to carbon emissions.
This project funds the installation of advanced truck stop electrification technology – in-cab service modules that connect an energy efficient, external unit to the rig via flexible hoses and heats, cools and powers the interior of the truck. It saves about a gallon of diesel a year and is currently in use in 13 states including Arizona, California, Georgia, New Jersey, Utah, Texas, and more.
I thought another interesting project was their Seneca Falls, NY Waste-to-Energy Landfill Project, which collects and destroys landfill gasses and delivers it for utilization in a gas-to-energy plant.
Methane is approximately 23 more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide and this project is expected to mitigate the release of more than 2.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over its lifetime.
What I took away from my research and connection with Carbonfund.org was the encouragement to think about my lifestyle decisions and to seek out opportunities to reduce climate impact. There are simple things you can do today – such as using energy efficient lightbulbs and appliances, keep your car maintained and your tires at proper pressure, make sure your home is properly insulated, eat less meat, recycle, buy local. Their website has several pages dedicated to ideas on how you can reduce your footprint in a myriad of easy (and some not so easy) steps: https://carbonfund.org/reduce/
If everyone made behavioral changes and conscious effort to cut their carbon footprint even a small amount, it could have a big impact.
For example, if everyone who flew more than 3 times a year eliminated one flight, it would reduce emissions by 55 million tonnes. Add to that any of the other various small changes and we, as global citizens, would have the opportunity to make tremendous changes. Global warming may not be exclusively man-made, but that does not mean that we should not take on the responsibility to fight it.
For more information on Carbonfund.org, to make a donation, or to calculate your carbon footprint, please check out: https://carbonfund.org/