Stepping Towards a Greener World: 7 Shocking Carbon Footprint Facts

Within the next 20 years, the earth’s surface temperature could rise by up to 1.5 degrees Celsius (34 degrees Fahrenheit). That doesn’t sound like a whole lot in that timeframe, but the earth’s atmosphere and delicate microbiome simply cannot withstand it.

The evidence of global warming is shockingly clear. The last 7 years have been the warmest in recorded history, only solidifying the fact that our planet is warming up, and there’s no end in sight.

If you want to learn more carbon footprint facts that inspire you to make some changes, just keep on reading.

What Is a Carbon Footprint, Exactly? 

You’ve probably heard this term thrown around by friends, colleagues, and even environmental experts, but what does it actually mean in the context of global warming?

In short, your carbon footprint measures how much carbon dioxide you produce as an individual, a household, a business, or an organization in your daily activities. It’s quite simple — the more energy you use in a day, the greater your carbon footprint.

When we consume/use energy, the by-product is often carbon dioxide (CO2). This gas is useful in certain amounts, but when there’s an excess of it, this causes an imbalance in the atmosphere, resulting in global warming. Want to know how much CO2 you produce? Check out Climeworks’ footprint calculator.

Here are a few facts about carbon footprints that might shock you:

1. First-World Countries Produce the Greatest Amount of CO2 Per Year 

On a global average, the world as a whole produces as much as 2.4 million pounds of CO2 per second. Let that sink in. Contrary to what most people assume, third-world countries do not play as great a role in CO2 contribution. Rather, industrialized, first-world countries play the biggest role.

Carbon emissions, per capita, come in at the highest in countries such as the U.S., China, Russia, Germany, and Hungary.

2. Clean Water Production Produces Tonnes of CO2 

Where does the water you drink come from? You might assume that it’s sourced from rivers, lakes, and waterways in your area. But in reality, this water is not actually potable. The water that comes out of your faucet consumes a huge amount of energy to purify on a daily basis.

And due to the sheer amount of water we use on a daily basis, whether it’s taking a shower, washing dishes, or watering your lawn, this amount adds up, per household. In truth, water purification produces some of the highest CO2 emissions, globally. This is why water conservation is so key to reducing your carbon footprint.

3. Food Production Accounts for 83% of CO2 Emissions 

The same goes for the food we eat. It’s all neatly packaged and ready to go in the grocery store, but the amount of energy it takes to produce, manufacture, and transport certain foods is colossal. Businesses that produce/manufacture foods not only contribute to CO2 emissions, but methane, and nitrous oxide, too.

Transportation of foods produces 11 percent of global carbon emissions, alone. Not only this, but food waste is also a massive contributor to this carbon footprint. It equates to roughly 1.3 billion tonnes per annum, resulting in tonnes of emissions used to dispose of this waste.

4. One Pound of Rubbish Equates to One Pound of Pollution

Who knew that waste could also produce waste? In this case, one pound of rubbish can produce up to one pound of CO2 emissions. This means that the landfills we use today emit some of the highest amounts of greenhouse gases on the planet.

How does this work? As rubbish sits in landfill sites and decays over time, it releases gases such as methane and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. In essence, it’s the natural byproduct of decaying organic materials. Not only this, but methane is an even more harmful gas because it’s so effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere.

5. CO2 Lives in the Atmosphere for Centuries 

Even though we cannot actually see the different types of gases that linger in the air, aside from instances of smoke and smog, the atmosphere around us is filled with CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide.

In fact, once CO2 forms as part of the earth’s atmosphere, it lives there for hundreds and hundreds of years. This is a good thing — it helps to regulate our climate. But there is a fine line between good CO2 levels and those that are dangerously high.

In today’s day and age, the balance is out-of-whack, owing to the steady increase of the earth’s surface temperature and many wild weather events.

6. Electricity Supply Produces 25 Percent of CO2 Emissions 

Even if you’re mindful of your energy use, whether at home or in the office, the sad reality is that electricity use produces some of the highest greenhouse gas emissions today.

In fact, electricity production is the second-largest contributor to carbon footprint emissions on the planet, comprising a whopping 25 percent of greenhouse gases. 62 percent of the electricity we use today comes from burning fossil fuels, and as we already know, fossil fuels are the greatest contributor to global warming.

7. We Can End Global Warming by Cutting Out Fossil Fuels 

That’s right — there is a solution to global warming and, in theory, it seems quite simple. By cutting out the use of fossil fuels, we can literally put an end to global warming.

But what exactly are fossil fuels? The irony is that they are naturally occurring. They form from decomposing organic materials, such as plants and animals. Today, some of the most widely used fossil fuels include oil, coal, and natural gases. They’re comprised mostly of carbon and hydrogen.

The reality is that the use of fossil fuels across numerous industries contributes 80-90 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, on a global scale. If we cut back on using these materials for energy generation, we could emit far less carbon into the atmosphere.

Find More Carbon Footprint Facts a Click Away 

If you found these carbon footprint facts shocking, there’s plenty more to explore on the rest of this site. If you’re looking for some inspiration to reduce your carbon output in the world, it’s these types of facts that can motivate you.

Take some time to broaden your knowledge of global warming and the steps you can take to make a difference. Check out the rest of this site for more!

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