by Susan McCarthy, RDC
This past weekend I felt like the Wicked Witch of the West. . . just melting away! Perspiration from the heat and humidity just rolled off my face and body. Is it my imagination or are we really experiencing record heat? The whole thing has me thinking a bit more about "global warming" and my "carbon footprint."
What exactly is a carbon footprint and why does it matter? Unlike the schoolchildren of today, I have to do a bit of research to understand all this jargon a bit more…but I am making an effort! Today I have an appointment with a friend who is a Science teacher, and she is giving me a five-minute primer. I also printed off two extensive articles I found online (see last lines of this blog). I’m hoping to share my research with those of you who are also struggling to keep up with the current understandings about our Earth. I’m also planning to offer you a few websites to do your own research.
Wikipedia tells us that a carbon footprint is "the total set of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by an organization, event, product or person.” There are calculators available online that will tell us just how large that footprint is depending on how much fossil fuel (coal and oil) we use. Most of us use such fuel to grow foods, produce various materials, and get ourselves around. (I was just recently invited by an airline to contribute to The Nature Conservancy as a response to my use of fuel in an upcoming flight!) It is the combined size of all our carbon footprints that is contributing to the warming of the Earth.
If you would like to see how large your personal or family carbon footprint is, try one of these websites. Fill in your information (no identifying personal info is asked, just your use of car, etc.) and get a tally:
I receive regular e-mails from the Catholic Climate Covenant (though this commitment is not just a Catholic thing). Through this newsletter, we are invited to sign on to the St. Francis Pledge http://catholicclimatecovenant.org/the-st-francis-pledge/ part of which invites us to:
• Conduct an energy audit of your home, church, school or institution to discover where energy can be conserved.
• Consider and examine your carbon footprint to assess how your choices and behaviors contribute to or help reduce carbon emissions.
• Reduce your consumption of energy (act on your energy audit) by updating appliances, adjusting your thermostat, insulating, etc.
• Ask other individuals and get your parish, school or other organization to take the St. Francis Pledge.
• Drive less and walk more, combine errands, or use public transportation.
• Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
I hope we can all do a bit more to assess and act. My fan just died, and we have still more weeks of warm weather to come!
Here are some websites I found in my research: