Today I calculated a rough estimate of my lifetime carbon footprint.
I based my figure on the results generated by a variety of online carbon footprint calculators all of which are a bit cumbersome and I had to make a lot of assumptions. Generally I have erred on the side of more rather than less carbon. I have accounted for every piece of airplane travel I have ever undertaken as either SYD to LON flights or BNE to MEL flights. I have averaged half the electricity usage in my house over two billing periods and multiplied that by my thirty eight years. I have claimed responsibility for the entirety of the pollution produced by my family car, a 2011 Hyundai diesel wagon over a 15000km distance year again multiplied by my entire life. In similar fashion I have accounted for food, public transport, entertainment, electronics, furniture and waste disposal, generous estimates all and with no shortcutting for good behaviour like the limited meat consumption we are striving for or the lifelong composting of food waste.
I have to this point in my life been responsible for something on the order of five hundred and seventy seven tons of carbon emissions.
Using the 25 story ‘Gotham City Building‘ from the Brisbane skyline for scale. 577 tons as 8.2m cubes stacked in an array would approximate something like this:
It seems to me that a significant problem among climate denialism is a lack of imagination. I don’t suffer that problem, quite the opposite in fact.
My average output appears to fall somewhere between nine and sixteen tons per annum. The significant amounts of plane travel this year have pushed me upwards of twenty tons.
Damn right I live in the first world.
If I continue to err on the generous and I give myself a generous lifespan of say ninety six years my lifetime output will be one thousand four hundred and forty seven tons.
But I have decided that I want a Carbon Positive life.
I want to make sure I take more carbon out of the atmosphere in my life than I put into it. Leave it better than I found it as it were. To that end I am going to actively reduce my own emissions but I am also researching meaningful carbon offsetting techniques with which to meet this goal.
One of the concrete things I took away from ‘This Changes Everything‘ (Which you really ought to read) is that most carbon offsetting is total bullshit. Lots of dodgy operators and Howard era economics like ‘not cutting down this forest is a carbon offset’. Even so if I were to take the easy option and use, for instance one of the tree planting services listed here, as they are at least actively removing carbon from the atmosphere, I would be looking at a cost between eighteen and twenty five thousand dollars. Which needless to say I don’t have to spend. The how to accomplish this goal will is a work in progress.
Lots of ideas floating around, more are welcome.
Doubtless lots of work to do.