An update from Jillian – Jillian is a junior CCPA major who interned with OneClimate.net.
With the term global warming, many pictures come to mind: a hybrid car, Hurricane Katrina, Al Gore’s face and now – five planet Earths. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), that is the acreage required if every person in the world shared the lifestyle of an American student.
Until recently, the vast majority of the general public, and even most global justice activists, have seen climate change as “an environmental issue” of secondary importance to “people-issues.” OneClimate, a program under OneWorld NGO, acknowledges many connections now beginning to emerge between climate change, poverty and social justice. OneClimate focuses on promoting awareness and education, bringing the problems of climate change to the forefront of people’s lives across the globe.
How big is your footprint?
Tracking the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) individuals produce, or your carbon footprint, helps you gain perspective on personally making a difference. CO2 is a greenhouse gas connected to global warming and is something we release in mass quantities every day. Several calculators that determine your carbon footprint are available on the web. The majority produce results in pounds or kilograms, accurate but difficult to visualize. They ask questions relating to households and bill,s which, for students who live on campuses, can be inapplicable or time-consuming.
For example, according to www.timeforchange.org, “one kg (2.205 lbs) of CO2 is released with the production of five plastic bags, production of two plastic bottles and the production of 1/3 of an American cheeseburger.” Yes, just 1/3. It is easy to tell that is significant, but difficult to grasp because holding a pound of gas is somewhat intangible.
The WWF calculator estimates how much productive land and water you need to support what you use and discard based on questions about food and technology as well as recycling and transportation. For example, a student who eats meat/fish once a day, buys food that isn’t locally grown (which in a major city like Dallas is inevitable), drives an SUV 5-15 hrs a week, doesn’t use public transit, spends 10 hours on a plane annually and lives in a two-person apartment, uses up to 22 acres of the earth annually.
Included in this calculation, this student recycles, turns their lights and computer off when they leave, and carpools, which are solutions that we have easily adopted to attempt to do our part. This isn’t enough, considering that if divided evenly, there are only 4.5 acres for each person across the world to use every year.
You can make a difference
That means during our time at SMU, we will produce 5 times the amount of carbon dioxide the average person should be allotted. We hear about climate change beginning to be a serious problem in 2050 or even in 100 years’ time. But OneClimate founder Anuradha Vittachi believes an “Irreversibility Day” is set for 2030.
There are recycling cans all over campus – use them. Carpool. The energy used up by being lazy is actually more than the energy you would use to be productive.
Eliminate your excuses for not tracking your carbon footprint by going to www.worldwildlife.org/globalwarming. Go the extra mile for a detailed footprint at www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/ind_calculator.html or www.begreennow.com/users/calculator.
Each website provides insight on how to reduce produced CO2 so you can start implementing improvements at SMU today. Statistics are showing that U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions declined from 5.955 million metric tons (MMTCO2) in 2005 to 5,877 MMTCO2 in 2006.
People are responding and changing. Be one of them today by signing up at www.oneclimate.net.