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Carbon Footprint

Environment | 6-12 yrs | Animation, Video

What is a ‘carbon footprint’?

Most energy produced in the world is done by burning fossil fuels such as petroleum and gas. You may not experience it directly but everything you do requires energy. You need petrol to create energy to drive your car, gas to light your stove, and even the paper you write on in school requires energy to be transformed from wood to books.

There is no clean way to burn fossil fuels. No matter how you do it, you will produce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the process. Hence, Your carbon footprint is the total amount of carbon dioxide and methane gas you release into the environment by consuming energy.

To get a better idea of how consuming something adds to your carbon footprint take the example of paper. Let’s say that plants take 5 units of energy to become trees. It takes 1 unit to cut down the tree and 3 units to transport it to a factory. The factory takes another 5 units to convert this tree into paper. Finally another 1 unit is used to transport that paper to your city. This means that when you buy the book it is worth 15 units of energy.

It may take you less than 1 unit of energy to throw a book into the dustbin but in reality you are chucking away 15 units of energy. Now think of every person in the whole world throwing away just 1 book and you get 7 billion X 15 units of energy when someone simply throws away a book.

The choices that we make over a lifetime can be converted into a quantity of how much energy is required to satisfy these habits. If we look at the big picture, the total impression we make on the world in our life is our carbon footprint. When you take an airplane, leave the light on in a room or a tap running, think of the size of the footprint you are leaving on mother nature.

The earth has a natural way of recycling the amount of carbon in the atmosphere called the Carbon Cycle. By reducing the amount of energy you consume on a daily basis you can help keep the environment clean. So the next time you see your parents leave the light on, tell them about their carbon footprint, and don’t forget to turn off the light.

Click HERE to learn more about the carbon cycle

Here are a few ideas of how you can do this-

  • If your going to a friend’s house close by convince your parents to walk with you instead of taking a car or taxi.
  • If you live in a hot place try and reduce the amount of direct sunlight that comes into your house. This way you won’t have to use the fan or air-conditioner all the time. Even if you do use the air-conditioner it will be more efficient if it doesn’t have to compete with the sun.
  • If you live in a cold place, make sure that your windows and doors are properly insulated. Keep the doors and windows closed so that warm air doesn’t get out. This way you don’t have to keep the heater on all the time.
  • All electronic devices continue to use electricity when they are plugged in even if they are switched off.
    You can reduce this by making sure that your television, refrigerator, dvd player, and computer are all plugged into a ‘surge protector’ strip.
  • Speaking of computers, instead of using a screen saver switch off your moniter even if you are going away only for 5 minutes.

Further research

In 2008, India ranked 3rd in the list of countries with the most CO2 emissions, after The United States of America and China. It produced 1473.73 million tons. If the population of India in 2008 was 1.12 billion. Calculate your carbon foot print based on those number. What was the footprint of your entire family. (hint just multiply the number you get for yourself by the number of people in your family).

 For more environment related articles and videos, visit: Environment for Kids category.

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