Happy Earth Week! Let’s take a minute to step away from our personal exercise plans and talk about the week that is coming to a close that celebrates the world we live in, good old Mother Earth! We all know that we are responsible for the upkeep of the Earth for ourselves, our children and our children’s children and so forth so I started thinking about what my personal carbon footprint is and what I can do to better the health of the world I live in while continuing my goal to help people better their own lives as well as my own.
For those of you who are not familiar with the term “carbon footprint” here is a simple definition I found on Wikipedia.com.
Carbon Footprint - the total set of greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions caused by an organization, event or product.
...and for those of you, who like me wanted clearer definitions (also courtesy of Wikipedia.com)...
Greenhouse Gas - gases in an atmosphere that absorb and emit radiation within the thermal infrared range. This process is the fundamental cause of the greenhouse effect. The main greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone. Greenhouse gases greatly affect the temperature of the Earth; without them, Earth's surface would be on average about 33 °C (59 °F) colder than at present. The burning of fossil fuels since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution has substantially increased the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Greenhouse Effect - caused by an atmosphere containing gases that absorb and emit infrared radiation and trap heat within the surface-troposphere system, causing heating at the surface of the planet. This mechanism is fundamentally different from that of an actual greenhouse, which works by isolating warm air inside the structure so that heat is not lost.
Global warming, a recent warming of the Earth's surface and lower atmosphere, is believed to be the result of a strengthening of the greenhouse effect mostly due to human-produced increases in atmospheric greenhouse gasses.
...and just so you know (courtesy of Wikipedia.com)...
Earth Day (Earth Week) - is a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment. It was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in held on April 22, 1970 and is celebrated in more than 175 countries every year. Many communities celebrate Earth Week, an entire week of activities focused on environmental issues. Earth Day is now observed each year on April 22 in virtually every country on Earth. Earth Day is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network.
Ok, enough of the definitions and the lecture. Why am I telling you all this? I wanted to know how much my household contributes to those greenhouse gasses that are responsible for global warming and the general unhealthy nature of the Earth we live in and need to preserve. There are numerous websites that can help you calculate your carbon footprint and I found one www.nature.org/initiatives/climatechange/calculator/ that was able to give me my own footprint, my household footprint and also show me how I measure up to the US average as well as the World average.
The results? As an individual my estimated emissions is 10 tons of CO2 equivalent per year compared to the US average of 27 tons of CO2 equivalent per year and compared to the World average of 5.5 tons of CO2 equivalent per year. Good news compared to the US average but not so hot compared to the World. (Remember, we are looking for the lowest possible emissions.) As a household of 2 (myself and my husband) our estimated emissions if 21 tons of CO2 equivalent per year compared to the US average of 53 tons of CO2 equivalent per year and compared to the World average of 11 tons of CO2 equivalent per year. Again, not bad as an American but not so hot as a member of the World.
After discovering this, I have dedicated my summer to not only keeping my body and the bodies I interact with as a health and fitness professional healthy, but to making the Earth healthier. Think about it. The Earth is like the Mother who gave birth to you and while I am helping my own Mom keep to an exercise plan, we can all help our “other” Mother who gives us a place to live. (Hmmm...maybe I can re-visit this blog around Mother’s Day too.)
I am a citizen of the US but I live on the Earth. It is my responsibility to find ways to bring my footprint down as low as I can to keep her healthy. What are you going to do about yours?