Carbon footprint is a term we’ve heard a lot lately, especially as global warming begins to show its effects harshly. We’ve all heard that the carbon footprint needs to be reduced, but most of us don’t know what it is or how can we reduce it. However, with small changes in your lifestyle, it is relatively easy to minimize your carbon footprint even if you cannot zero it.
In this article, we will try to answer the questions ‘What is carbon footprint?‘ and ‘What can we do to reduce carbon footprint?‘
What Is Carbon Footprint?
The carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide, that are released into the atmosphere by certain human activities. The carbon footprint is a broad metric. The activities of an individual, a family, an organization, and even an entire country leave a carbon footprint behind. Usually, the amount of CO2 released per year is measured in tons.
The carbon footprint is the total amount of carbon dioxide emissions in all activities of a person or a community (e.g. building, company, country, etc.). The carbon footprint can occur in two ways: the first is direct emissions from the burning of fossil fuels used in production, heating, and transportation, and the second is indirect emissions from the consumption of goods and services. In addition, the carbon footprint includes emissions of other greenhouse gases such as methane, nitrogen oxide, or chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).
How Is the Carbon Footprint Calculated?
Many factors are taken into account when calculating the carbon footprint. For example, the fuel you use when driving to the store contributes to carbon emissions. Even if you walk to the store, your carbon footprint is indirectly increased by your shopping because the products are delivered to the store by trucks. The production processes of fruits and vegetables grown in the fields are also factors that greatly increase the carbon footprint. Therefore, in order to reduce the carbon footprint, all these processes should be considered together and reduction studies must be conducted as a whole.
Calculating an individual’s carbon footprint is complicated. There are websites or online tools that can do this accounting, but they do not give a definite result, they can only generate an approximate value. These websites calculate your estimated carbon footprint with data such as what you eat, shopping habits, frequency of travel, etc.
What Can We Do to Reduce Carbon Footprint?
Individuals and organizations can reduce their carbon footprint by taking certain steps and making changes. Large communities, especially companies and countries, can buy carbon neutral certificates (generally referred to as an investment in carbon-reducing activity or technology) to compensate for some or all of their carbon footprint. If enough carbon neutral certificate is purchased to balance carbon footprints, carbon emissions can be neutralized.
Carbon footprints can be reduced by improving energy efficiency and changing lifestyles and purchasing habits. In particular, the use of energy and transportation has the largest direct impact on the carbon footprint. For example, using public transport reduces an individual’s carbon footprint compared to driving. Individuals and companies can reduce their carbon footprint by installing energy-efficient lighting systems, adding insulation to buildings, or generating power using renewable energy sources. For example, electricity generated from wind energy does not produce direct carbon emissions. Lifestyle options that individuals can choose to reduce their indirect carbon footprint include: reducing meat consumption, changing purchasing habits, opting for solutions that require fewer carbon emissions for production and transportation, and so on.
Methods to reduce your carbon footprint include driving electric vehicles, taking public transport, using energy-efficient devices, and insulating your home to decrease heating and cooling costs. Meat consumption has a significantly higher carbon footprint than consuming fruits and vegetables. Therefore, it is also very important to switch to a vegan eating habit.
3 Ways to Reduce Carbon Footprint with Smart Technology
Our planet is experiencing huge climate changes. Climate change is raising global temperatures and sea levels, as well as changing precipitation patterns. As a result, climate change has an impact on the entire planet and everything that lives on it. The most effective cause of this problem is increased carbon dioxide emissions, often known as the carbon footprint.
There is a lot of scientific research and evidence that humans are the primary cause of climate change. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, people cause quite a lot of damage to the world with their consumption and lifestyle choices. However, thanks to advanced technology, it is possible to reduce the carbon footprint and compensate for the damage done to the world. Here are some methods that can help reduce the carbon footprint:
Smart Home Systems
People can save energy by using smart home devices. Smart air conditioners and thermostats monitor the ambient temperature and work to keep it within a particular range, shutting down on their own when not needed. Smart sockets and bulbs turn off when there are no people in the room or electronic devices are not in use. Smart irrigation systems calculate the water content in the soil, preventing waste of water. As a result, it saves energy and helps reduce carbon footprint.
Smart Traffic Systems
New traffic systems, such as smart lights and sensors, reduce emissions by improving traffic flow. Cars consume a large amount of fuel when they stop to wait at the red light. To reduce this, sensors on the roads detect automobiles waiting at the traffic lights or heavy traffic heading in a certain direction. These sensors adjust the traffic lights according to the intensity so that traffic continues to flow. Thus, the carbon footprint is reduced while solving traffic congestion.
Smart Grids and Meters
Smart grids and meters do more than ensure that homes and buildings always have electricity. They collect and analyze data after delivering electricity distribution. Users can understand how much electricity they consume and how much energy they need to save by using this data.
Smart grids use artificial intelligence to distribute energy properly. Power outages and current fluctuations consume a lot of energy. Smart grids store energy to avoid these scenarios and use it for such fluctuations and outages.
What is CO2 Emission?
Negative connotations of carbon dioxide (CO2) lead to a false perception that it is hazardous. On the contrary, the amount of natural CO2 plays a critical role in protecting the ecosystem. Excessive CO2 emission, which is usually caused by human activities, damages the environment.
Life on Earth is based on a constant cycle of carbon in the air, water, and soil. Animals and plants release CO2 when they breathe, and nature maintains a balance by absorbing this carbon dioxide through plants and the ocean.
Human activities such as the drilling, purification, transportation, and burning of fossil fuels emit far more greenhouse gases than the CO2 that the ecosystem can naturally produce. These gas emissions are called CO2 emissions. When CO2 emissions increase, nature must eliminate them, and forest ecosystems are required to do so. CO2 emissions rise as a result of the increased amount of CO2 caused by human activities and forest loss at the same time.
Why Is CO2 Harmful?
Although the CO2 level in the atmosphere is high, it is not enough to harm humans or other living species. Like other greenhouse gases, CO2 absorbs radiation and traps heat in the atmosphere. High amounts of carbon dioxide store a lot of heat and trap it in the atmosphere. This leads to global warming and climate change. Climate change, one of the biggest problems of recent times, is primarily the result of huge carbon footprint and CO2 emission levels.