THREE EASY STEPS TO BECOMING "LOW CARBON"


This is a low carbon website, powered, at source, by "clean" windpower energy. No CO2 emissions are being produced in the updating, running and editing of this website. If your electricity supply is "dirty" coal-fired energy, then reading this page creates a miniscule amount of greenhouse gas. CO2 is also created by running your computer. Co2 is also produced by the maintenance of the server on which this site is housed. Over its lifetime, three trees are needed to offset the CO2 produced by one computer (about 2 tonnes).

As someone who has recovered from ME/CFS, I am surprised at how "going green" has drawn real interest from the Press. Magazine articles are currently going to print on how I reduced my "carbon footprint", (using the method below) from 5.9 tonnes to .08 tonnes. By starting a small pressure group on CO2 issues, you too, can become a creator of the future. All you need is a bit of knowledge. Why not master the technique below and write something for your own local newspaper? In a way, the restrictions suffered through ME/CFS are part of the solution to global warming. It is less difficult for people with ME/CFS to give things up (and many of us secretly believe that pollution contributes to ME/CFS).


How can I reduce my carbon footprint?

Using online calculators, I saw I was producing most Co2 from a) heating and b) from flights. I switched to 100% wind energy and I stopped flying. I take the train, which I enjoy. It is much more "scenic". I turn computers off when not in use. I use energy efficient lights and insulate better. I use public transport and shop for non-processed, local fruit and vegetables, organic if possible. Think about the amount of carbon produced by one can of baked beans! Anyone could make similar alterations to their lifestyle. They are not that difficult. Producing more than the weight of 6 cars per year in CO2 does not make one feel good. To become "green", makes you feel less part of the problem - and definitely part of the solution.

But how can I contribute when I am so ill?

One thing that most ME/CFS patients can do is become a "trainer" and advocate for low carbon emissions, among personal contracts and even for businesses. (You could can email a link to this page to all your contacts?). First, you need to educate yourself. Below is helpful some material geared to the UK market (though the carbon calculator can cope with UK and US energy units). The principles apply anywhere in the world.


Charity and media campaigns are now encouraging us to decrease outputs by 20% by 2010). But environmentalists believe that to stop global warming, every person in the advanced world needs to reduce their emissions to roughly 2,500 kg (2.5 tonnes) per year. Since the average US production per person is 18 tonnes and the average UK production is 11 tonnes, "that ain't easy" But don't be put off. . A lot of carbon is produced through domestic usage.

To start with there are 3 steps:

a) assess how much carbon you are producing
b) stop producing it at source, possibly generate your own energy through solar power and shop more wisely
c) offset what is unavoidable - by planting trees

1. First buy your domestic energy from a truly renewable energy supplier rather than from one that offers a "green" energy “deal” but in fact gets its power from coal-fired power stations. Genuine renewable energy may be a bit more more expensive than other suppliers but you will not need to limit your use of electricity or change your light bulbs.
2. Reduce the number of flights you take. Fly out, take the train back is one idea. Flights put a lot of CO2 into the stratosphere which is thought to be particularly damaging at that height.
3. Car share, use a hybrid car or use public transport more
4. Use less energy at home and at work. Shop locally and wisely. Avoid frozen, processed foods and tins which produce a lot of CO2
5. Possibly Install some solar power (to reduce your energy costs)
6. Offset - plant a tree for every flight.
7. Persuade others to do the same - persuade your contacts and business that it is easy. Refer them to this page.

Easy and not expensive

Basically, switching to a renewable energy supplier + using public transport instead of driving + cutting down on flights + planting 10 trees per year (totalling about 200 US dollars/100 pds sterling) brings you much near to “carbon neutrality”. Your wider footprint on goods and services is partly the responsibility of suppliers of goods but you should try to "consume" only low carbon products too. It is not difficult or expensive to reduce your "footprint" by a large margin. It might cost 20% more on energy (if you do not install solar power) + about 200 US dollars/100 pounds sterling on offsetting per year - but you would be nearly carbon neutral, as far as that is within your power. That would be quite an achievement for someone living in the UK and USA.

http://www.climatechallenge.gov.uk
This site has videos of melting glaciers etc.

The Carbon Trust

UK government policy on carbon offsetting

STEP 1 : CALCULATE YOUR FOOTPRINT

Calculate your Personal Carbon Footprint. Please note that linkage to my site does not necessarily imply endorsement by me.

http://www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.html - this calculator can cover the USA and UK energy units (please see US flag icon)
http://www.carbonfootprint.com/energy_consumption.html - household energy consumption figures per electrical item
http://www.carbonfootprint.com/plantingtrees.html
Each tree planted ‘offsets’ your environmental impact by ‘breathing’ in about 730 kg CO2 emissions over its lifetime. It is estimated that the average person needs to save about 7,000kg tonnes of CO2 per year. So planting just 10 trees each year is one strategy for achieving this. The trees also provide sustainable habitat for wildlife and will enhance the natural landscape with native broad-leaved trees. There is discussion about how much carbon a fallen or rotting tree produces. Perhaps trees will be disposed of in the future in a low carbon way? To carbon offset an average life of 70 years would take about 350 trees costing £4,200.

STEP 2 : REDUCE YOUR FOOTPRINT AT SOURCE (suggestions only and suppliers are not necessarily endorsed. For more details see carbon offsetting)

a) Ecotricity: **http://www.ecotricity.co.uk** NB This supplier claims that 400 pounds sterling of your payments for your electricity goes to building new wind farms each year so this would be a way of creating the future while being carbon neutral.
b) Good Energy: **http://www.good-energy.co.uk** This energy supplier is recommended by the UK Christian Charity "Tearfund" and other so-called "ethical" organisations.
c) Generate your own energy supplies:
d) Buy only electrical goods which are low carbon or use on/off switches and thermostats
e) Drive in a low carbon way or use a low carbon vehicle
f) Recycle waste products and drive ecologically
g) Fly carefully and compare carriers: http://business.guardian.co.uk/story/0,,1987131,00.html. Fly with carriers that fill their aircraft and have a newer fleet - this produces less carbon per person.
h) Avoid over-heating your home, use a thermostat and avoid using air conditioning where possible (if you are not on renewables)

STEP 3: OFFSET UNAVOIDABLE CARBON EMISSIONS

Companies for individuals
This theory of these websites is that carbon offset is an effective way of reducing the effect of carbon. The jury is out as there may be twice the damage in emitting carbon in relation to flights but in future there may be low carbon ways of disposing of trees.

http://www.carbonfootprint.com/plantingtrees.html
Each tree planted ‘offsets’ your environmental impact by ‘breathing’ in about 730 kg CO2 emissions over its lifetime. It is estimated that the average person needs to save about 7,000kg tonnes of CO2 per year. So planting just 10 trees each year is one strategy for achieving this. The trees also provide sustainable habitat for wildlife and will enhance the natural landscape with native broad-leaved trees. There is discussion about how much carbon a fallen or rotting tree produces however. Perhaps trees will be disposed of in a low carbon way? To carbon offset an average life of 70 years would take about 350 trees costing £4,200.

Atmosfare
http://www.atmosfair.de/index.php?id=9&L=3

MyClimate
http://www.myclimate.org/index.php?lang=en


Tesco Energy
Tesco Energy makes a calculation (worth trying several calculators to check one against the other) of your annual home carbon usage (includes travel and car usage but not carbon related to food/products). It can tell you how much you much carbon offset will equal your 20% reduction target. Offset figures seem too low on the Tesco site, however.

Pure Trust
http://www.puretrust.org.uk/Home/Personal/Calculator.aspx
This is another calculator which suggests another level of offset. Results may be higher than those suggested by Tesco.

"...there's hardly a boardroom in the land that hasn't at least discussed cutting its carbon footprint in the last 12 months", Institute of Directors, Dec 2006

Carbon offsetting for business (an example)
http://www.carbonneutral.com

Calculating your business footprint:
http://www.carbonfootprint.com/companies_calc.html

Other Useful Information Websites__

Energy Saving Trust – the 20% campaign: http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/aboutest
Department of Transport :on driving better: http://www.dft.gov.uk/ActOnCO2
Inter Governmental Panel on Climate Change: http://www.ipcc.ch
The Hadley Centre : http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/
BBC Climate Change: http://www.bbc.co.uk/climate/evidence
Oxford University Centre for the Environment: http://www.eci.ox.ac.uk/
ITV Climate Change: http://www.itvclimatechange.com

Government Paper on mobilising individuals on Climate Change :
http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/climatechange/uk/individual/pdf/behaviourchange-report.pdf