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Calculating Your Carbon Footprint

| 11/12/2008 12:35:33 PM

We filled out this worksheet in my environmental studies class today, and I thought I’d share with everyone. It’s a way to roughly calculate your carbon footprint and think about things you can do to reduce your personal emissions.

If nothing else, I think it’s great that schools are encouraging students to at least think about areas in our lives that contribute to carbon emissions and ways we can adopt more sustainable, conservative practices to mitigate some of the effects of these emissions.

The Facts

  • Sixty percent of man-made contributions to global warming comes from carbon dioxide emissions; 75 percent of which comes from burning fossil fuels.
  • Worldwide, each person emits an average of 1 ton carbon dioxide each year.
  • The average American emits 20 tons each year.

The Calculations

Note: If math isn’t your thing, try the online carbon calculators provided by the following organizations: EPA, Climate Crisis and SafeClimate.

Car emissions 

Estimate the average miles you drive each year and your car’s average miles per gallon. The worksheet says to use 20 mpg if you’re not sure, but dividing the number of miles shown on your gage when it’s about empty by the total number of gallons in your fuel tank should get your pretty close. (For example, I know I need to fill up my Ford Focus when I get around 280 miles for my 12 gallon tank, so my car’s mpg is about 23).

Here’s the formula:

9/11/2013 5:23:01 AM

A lot of online carbon calculators are unfortunately not very good. I have published a peer-reviewed article in the International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control evaluating the 15 most popular calculators on the internet ( My analysis documents significant shortcomings of many of the calculators. To remedy this situation, CarbonStory was created as a free calculator meeting all 13 evidence-based principles identified in the research (

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