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Perhaps the stupidest activity I took part in this week was researching carbon footprint tracking for a news story. Initially, I thought the process would be insightful and prompt me to love the environment just a little bit more. However, the results simply frustrated me.
Google “carbon footprint tracking” and you will find hundreds of hits, none of which coincide with each other.
First, I tried ecohatchery.com and began calculating my carbon footprint to see just how terrible my life is to the environment. Honestly, the results made me feel pretty good about myself! I scored an 18.63, well below the stated 30.9 American average household footprint, according to ecohatchery.com.
Next, I visited The Nature Conservancy Web site to try again. A 32 compared to the average 27, according to nature.org! Wait, what? I thought I already proved myself an environmental godsend. A third visit to e-bluehorizons.com informed me that my score yet again varied; this time I was a 20.8.
Overall, I learned a few lessons about carbon footprint tracking from a good place like Carbon Click that must be shared.
1. If you drive a car, take a long distance bus, fly on a plane, cross the ocean in a boat—just don’t do it. Every extra mile you drive, fly, whatever, you hurt the environment that much more.
So, it’s time to start planning ahead. Oh, so you need to visit home next weekend? Where do you live? Only as far as Aurora? You’ll only have to walk for 13 hours, according to Google Maps. Not bad, just watch the highways. Those other carbon-footprint increasers drive fast.
Wait, you live in New York? You’ll need to get started 24 days in advance, according to Google Maps.
2. Don’t eat meat. Wait, eat meat! Depending on which Web site you decide to visit, you will either gain .2 or .4 points for eating meat or lose those points. Vegetarians may want to track on different calculators than barbeque frequenters.
3. If you have a Web site, destroy it, especially if it helps promote the very topic of saving the world. That’s what The Climate Trust, an organization from Portland dedicated to offsetting greenhouse gas emissions, did with their carboncounter.org Web site. We just can’t risk educating the people anymore.
4. Take cold showers. Yes, the weather forecast shows 30 degrees and snow. Yes, you won’t be able to feel your limbs by the time you return to your home at night. Yes, taking a cold shower at this point may make you sick and completely miserable, but really, consider the environment; all those greenhouse gas emissions from your typical five minute warm showers really hurt her feelings.
5. Avoid taking the elevators. This one actually makes sense, but not if overdone. According to signs in Andrews Hall, “This is a GREEN building. DO NOT use the elevators unless absolutely necessary! Chuck Norris will lay down a can of smack if you don’t follow this.”
Never mind that the “green” building houses three elevators. And while every once in awhile, a ride up to the third floor after a long day with your heavy textbooks might seem nice, don’t fool yourself into such thoughts. You’re wasting a tiny morsel of energy, maybe as much as fifth of the amount it took to install those elevators in the first place.
If you care about your carbon footprint and wish good thoughts upon the world, you will follow these rules. If not, good for you, but watch out for Chuck Norris.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Jennifer Retter at Jennifer.firstname.lastname@example.org.