According the the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2012, carbon dioxide (CO2) made up about 82% of calculated United States greenhouse gas emissions produced by humans. The primary source of human CO2 emissions is from the burning of fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and oil) for energy. According to the 2010 “Global Carbon Project,” combustion of fossil fuels make up about 91% of all human’s CO2 emissions. The primary sources of human CO2 emissions in the U.S. can be broken down into the following categories according to the EPA website: electricity, transportation, and industry.
Electricity accounts for about 38% of total U.S. CO2 emissions and 31% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions (2012). The burning of Fossil Fuels for electrical energy is the leading source of CO2 outflow in the U.S. Also, Burning coal to produceelectricity produces a significantly higher amount of CO2 than burning oil or natural gas.
Transportation accounts for about 32% of total U.S. CO2 emissions and 27% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions (2012). The burning of gasoline and diesel fossil fuels is what is meant by “transportation.”
Industry accounts for about 14% of total U.S. CO2 emissions and 12% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions (2012). Many industrial CO2 emissions do not include any combustion of fossil fuels, but chemical reaction CO2 emissions such as the production of various metals and cements.
“Carbon dioxide is constantly being exchanged among the atmosphere, ocean, and land surface as it is both produced and absorbed by many microorganisms, plants, and animals. However, emissions and removal of CO2 by these natural processes tend to balance” (EPA). The best way to reduce human CO2 emissions is by reducing fossil fuel consumption. This can be made possible by installing energy efficient appliances and also by creating awareness of the issue.
Now I’m going to calculate my individual “carbon footprint” to show how much CO2 one person can emit.
Home Energy: In my one bedroom apartment in Pennsylvania, it is predicted that with my energy conscious every day activities, my estimated impact is about 7.8 tons of CO2 eq/year.
Driving and Flying: Based on my large vehicle driving about 50,000 mi/year and the 8 flights I have taken this last school year, this adds about 57 tons of CO2 eq/year to my total.
Diet and Food: Considering I eat meat regularly and rarely eat organic food, 5 tons of CO2 eq/year has been added to my total.
Recycling and Waste: Based on my irregular recycling habits, I add 0.8 tons of CO2 eq/year.
7.8 + 57 + 5 + 0.8 = 70.6 tons of CO2 is the amount I produce per year based on my daily activities.
The average person in the U.S. emits about 27 tons of CO2/year.
70 – 27 = 43 tons of CO2/year —> This means that I produce about 2.5x the amount of CO2 than the average person per year. I candefinitely say it is the travel and transportation that is the reason this number is so high. If I were to completely eliminate the travel and flights, I would produce about 13 tons/year vs. 70. Considering this is a very unrealistic change in lifestyle, I will calculate the difference it would make if I were to invest in a hybrid vehicle.
With a hybrid vehicle (same distance per year and including flights) : about 35 tons
35 ÷ 57 x 100 = 61.4%
100 – 61.4 = 38.6%
If I were to invest in a hybrid car (price of vehicle not included in calculation), I would be emitting about 40% less CO2 into the air which would make a huge difference.