What Is Carbon Footprint

by Prachee last updated -

If you want to know how an activity, event, company, or even an individual is impacting the environment, a simple measure of it is their carbon footprint. The carbon footprint is a calculation of how much greenhouse gas emission has occurred through a certain activity. In times like these when global warming is affecting almost everyone around the world, and every small step can help, there are several things we can do to reduce our footprint, as individuals and as a community. But before we do that, we ought to know what carbon footprint is and how we are adding to it. Let’s take a look.

What is Carbon Footprint?

To put it simply, our carbon footprint is the volume of greenhouse gases being emitted into the atmosphere as a result of our actions. These calculations can be applied to the life of an individual or specific aspects of their lifestyle, regions, organizations, events, or any such parameters. [1]

Irrespective of how it is calculated, the collective carbon footprint of humankind affects the climate of our planet. Also, the higher this footprint, the closer we get to the peak of global warming. Which means, it is in our best benefit to reduce our carbon footprint. [2]

Carbon footprint cut out

Reducing our carbon footprint is a way to save our planet. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

What are Greenhouse Gases?

When talking about global warming, we often come across the harms that carbon dioxide emission is causing to the environment. Carbon dioxide is one of the greenhouse gases, but it is only one part of the picture. Some of the other greenhouse gases are water vapor, methane, ozone, nitrous oxide, as well as CFCs and HFCs. 

Most of the gases from this group, such as water vapor and ozone, are naturally present in the atmosphere as well as released through our activities. So what makes them harmful now? Primarily, it is the volumes of greenhouse gases now being released into the atmosphere.

When released in the atmosphere, these gases tend to stay trapped in. They are also capable of absorbing infrared radiation. The more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the more infrared radiation stays trapped in the atmosphere. This leads to an increase in the temperature by creating a greenhouse effect, thus the name. [3]

To sum it up, our footprint is the calculation of how much greenhouse gases are our activities releasing into the atmosphere. The volumes of these gases being emitted into the atmosphere have been increasing since the industrial revolution. [4]

Major Carbon Footprint Contributors

We are all adding to the carbon footprint of humankind, in one way or another. However, here are some activities that add a major share to the whole, and could help by adopting greener means of operating. According to the data provided by the EPA, here are some of the top sources of greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Electricity production
  • Transportation
  • Industry (Use of fossil fuels as well as chemical reactions)
  • Commercial and Residential
  • Agriculture
  • Land use and forestry

While we cannot stop these activities, it is important to seek out more sustainable and environmentally-friendly options that we can consider. It may be overwhelming to make a lot of eco-friendly lifestyle changes overnight, but here are a few steps you could take to reduce your carbon footprint.

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About the Author

Prachee is a content writer for Organic Facts and is responsible for writing on the latest wellness trends. A former Journalism & Media teacher, she prides herself on being able to seamlessly dabble between health, science, and technology. She has completed her Masters in Communication Studies from the University of Pune, India as well as an online course on “Introduction to Food and Health” from Stanford University, US. Prachee fancies herself to be a poet and a cook when the rare lightning of inspiration strikes.

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