Ever since environmentalists have raised people’s awareness about global warming and climate change, most of us have become more conscious of our carbon footprint.
Carbon footprint refers to the amount of carbon we add to the atmosphere through our choice of home and transportation equipment, personal devices, usage of electric utilities, as well as our methods and habits in general. If you are really interested in knowing how much carbon you contribute to the environment, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers a free-to-use carbon footprint calculator for a rough estimate.
How Carbon Emissions Impact the Earth’s Atmosphere
Carbon emissions include carbon monoxide (CO) and carbon dioxide (CO2). Both are naturally produced when fuel is burned.
Carbon monoxide (CO) if occurring by way of oxidation produces trace amounts. It may occur as a result of oxygen-deprived combustion for purposes of producing heat or fire. Examples of which include fuel-burning appurtenances like gas or kerosene-fueled water or space heaters, ovens, oil or gas-fueled furnaces, as well as wood-fueled fireplaces and stove.
As far as carbon monoxide is concerned, the CO level occurring in our planet is measured at an average level of 0.1 ppm (parts per million). CO concentrations though can reach dangerous levels when occurring in a controlled environment. At 100 ppm, it can cause mild poisoning resulting to headaches and/or dizziness.
If the CO hits a concentration level of at least 700 ppm, carbon monoxide inhalation would be fatal. Internal combustion in engines that have no catalytic converter is likely to produce carbon monoxide in dangerous concentration levels.
Raised levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth’s atmosphere is likewise harmful. Plants, particularly trees, naturally absorb the CO2 as part of their systems and processes, which tend to reduce the amount of CO2 pervading in the Earth’s atmosphere. Yet mankind has also used plants and trees excessively.
The problem worsened since humans have overused most natural resources, resulting to land degradations, deforestations and ecological imbalances; preventing Mother Nature from growing more plants and trees that can absorb the CO2 we continuously add to the atmosphere.
That being the case, there is an oversupply of CO2, whilst fewer plants and trees are present in the environment. As a result, the atmosphere retains large amounts of CO2 that equate to greater atmospheric heat. Significantly warmer temperatures on land affects the soil and can even result to forest fires that worsen land degradation.
Excessive atmospheric heat has in fact resulted to the melting of glaciers; producing huge volumes of water flowing into oceans and seas. Globally, intense heat produced by high levels of CO2 has triggered climate change, which adversely impact humans through occurrences of stronger and more destructive forms of natural calamities; such as typhoons, hurricanes, earthquakes and heat waves.
That being the case, it is now more important than ever, for humans to reduce their carbon footprint by choosing their appliances, devices and equipment wisely, as well as by observing moderate and proper use of fuel.
Transport Equipment Ranked as Second-Highest Producer of Carbon Dioxide
The EPA has established that next to electricity, transportation ranks second in the list of CO2 producers; accounting for 31% carbon dioxide emissions in the United States alone. Every gallon of fuel used by a vehicle releases between 20 and 24 pounds of CO2. On a per capita/per annum basis, the average American car user, adds about 19 tons of the heat-producing CO2 to the atmosphere.
Keep in mind that driving a well maintained car and at the same time driving a low-gallon per mile car, are great ways of reducing one’s carbon footprint. This denotes that when buying a used car, let us say from a spokane auto auction, make sure you will be buying one that runs efficiently not only in terms of performance but also in reducing carbon footprint.