Green Transportation

Moving toward a transportation system that fuels healthy people and a healthy planet.

Add to My MSN

Carbon Counting Cheat Sheet

6/27/2008 1:29:00 PM

Tags: climate change, global warming, carbon, energy, electricity, coal, gas, natural gas

If you're concerned about climate change, and want to reduce carbon emissions, you might be surprised how easy it is to figure out how much carbon dioxide is produced by, say, driving to work. Sure, there are a lot of carbon calculators out there where you can plug in all the numbers on how much you drive, and how much electricity you use. But it's also surprisingly easy to estimate yourself.

Here’s how you can do it. If you go to the EPA carbon calculator it gives you recognizable units, like gallons and pounds. (And slightly more confusing units like carbon dioxide equivalent.  Essentially, they’re adding the other greenhouse gases into the number for carbon dioxide. But there’s more about that on the calculator page.)

It’s very simple to use, so here are results I got from spending a few minutes with the EPA calculator and playing with the numbers.

* Every gallon of gas burned produces about 22 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent. (So for simplicity, let's round down to 20.)
* Every therm of natural gas burned produces about 11 pounds. (I think it’s fair to round down to 10.)
* Every kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity produces about 1.7 pounds.
(If rounding up to 2 seems too painful, consider where your electricity comes from. If it comes from coal, yep, round up to 2. For natural gas, you can figure 1 pound. There are some statistics that help justify those numbers here.)

So when you fill up your gas tank, you have a number in gallons. Take it times 20 and you're awfully close to knowing how much carbon dioxide burning that tank of gas will produce. Same thing goes for your electric bill. Take a look at the number of kilowatt hours. Double it (in most cases) and you’re looking at pounds of greenhouse gas emissions.

Want to think more about pounds of carbon emissions and how to lose them? Here are a few related articles:

Eight Projects for Instant Energy Savings, Mother Earth News 

On Carbon Calculators, Grist 

What Makes a Pound of Carbon Dioxide, The Green Guide 


Megan E. Phelps is a freelance writer based in Kansas. She enjoys reading and writing about all things related to sustainable living including homesteading skills, green building and renewable energy. You can find her on .



Related Content

Another Greenhouse Gas to Watch

The word is that nitrogen trifluoride is more of a problem than previously thought, and it's used to...

Getting the Facts About the Global Warming E-mail Scandal

Learn why “Climategate” got so much attention, what scientists and skeptics are saying about it, and...

Paint the Town Green

This Friday, Beijing will show off its green improvements when the Olympics begin.

How About a Little Healthy Competition?

As grandly exhibited in the ongoing 2008 Olympics, one of the things we humans enjoy best is a littl...

Content Tools




Post a comment below.

 







Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.