If you read this blog, you’re probably familiar with the idea of global warming, and you know that it is going to have serious effects in the coming decades (see this image only if you want to be depressed). You may also know that scientists are suggesting there is a “point of no return” where we won’t be able to stop or reverse global warming. This point is usually described as a ratio of how much carbon (or more accurately, carbon equivalent) is in the atmosphere. There’s some debate about the exact number, but somewhere between 300 ppm and 450 ppm is considered the “safer” level that will prevent the worst of the effects.
Individual people can have a lot of impact on the total CO2 emissions dumped into the atmosphere. The average American household dumps 18 tonnes of carbon equivalents into the air every year. The sustainable level of carbon emissions – that is, the level that every person in the world could emit and keep the greenhouse effect from worsening beyond the point of no return – is one tonne per person per year [source].
If that sounds like a pretty big drop, well…it is. There’s a group of folks who are committing to make that reduction within a year. They’re calling it the Riot4Austerity, and I take my hat off to them for their bold undertaking, and I hope to reduce my carbon to at least 75% below American average in the next 2 years.
But for me, right now, it’s just too much to change all at once. Anyone else out there feel the same way?
I wanted to come up with a more manageable “chunk” to whittle away at, and I wanted to know the relative merits of various actions. Take the bus for 45 minutes or drive 5 miles? Eat 100% local or go vegetarian? Give up the hair dryer or turn off the A/C? Give up my car, or airplane flights? If I can do one thing to reduce my footprint today, which thing should it be? If I can’t give up my car, how else can I make up the difference?
And so, I bring you the One Stone Carbon Challenge. The basic premise is simple: I’ve created a list of activities which produce, on average, one stone (14 lb) of carbon emissions. You choose activities that prevent 14 pounds of carbon equivalent from entering the atmosphere, and you mark one stone off this chart (200Kb PNG). When you’ve crossed off the 157 stones on the chart, you’ve prevented one tonne of carbon pollution.
I’m putting the detailed calculations on a static page, here, to prevent any further clogging of people’s feed readers.
So, let’s make this a formal Challenge, in best blogging fashion. The One Stone Carbon Challenge runs from now until May 1, 2009. Comment below and tell us:
- That you’re participating
- Your goal – how many stones will you reduce by May 1?
- If you like, tell us your current carbon footprint, and at the end, recalculate your footprint and tell us the difference. Feel free to skip this if it sounds too much like a Weight Watchers weigh-in.
Feel free to snag the icon above to post on your blog, for thems what like badges.
I’ll check back in on May 1!