A “carbon footprint” refers to carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the greenhouse gas (GHG) most responsible for the present climate crisis. It’s created by our consumption of fossil fuels, which include petroleum, natural gas and coal.
CO2 becomes a pollutant when used with motor vehicles and power plants. Everyone I know has a carbon footprint of some sort.
Having no carbon footprint means living off the grid and not adding to GHG’s by living entirely on alternative energies. It doesn’t include a wood stove. These alternative energies include solar and wind power and the newer tidal and wave power. Tidal power is like hydroelectricity, but doesn’t harm the environment, and wave power is from ocean surface waves.
Many of us have been schooled to keep our carbon footprint as low as possible by creating less GHGs. Besides using alternative energies, we’re advised to drive less and attempt to walk, bike or take public transportation, vacation closer to home and save up errands to do all together.
Most Americans now believe that climate change is occurring, and that the world is experiencing more extreme weather because of it. We must make significant changes for our future, so it seems wise to reconsider a style of living that includes sustainability before too long.
Yet here is the sobering part. We won’t be able to “fix” our climate crisis by doing this. We must advocate.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency indicates that the three largest sources of GHG emissions are transportation/oil industry at 29 percent, electricity production at 27 percent, and building industry at 22 percent, making it 78% of the American total.
Transportation is the product of the powerful fossil fuel industry and which has profited immeasurably. They have also recklessly leaked their product around this world and pay a ridiculous fine compared to their profits. Whatever happened to regulations on fuel efficiency standards? What ever happened to electric and hybrid cars? Big oil companies regulate their own businesses. Is that possible for any corporation in this age of corporations not recognizing what ethics or honesty mean?
Power plants must wean themselves off fossil fuel consumption; and they certainly don’t need to use fracked gas. They obviously have monetary reasons not to, but could it be possible to at least get these private businesses like Puget Sound Energy to change over to alternatives like solar and wind to help regain a healthy existence for fellow Americans and their own country?
Building Industry production of steel, cement and glass requires a huge amount of fossil fuel consumption, besides the fossil-fueled machinery needed. Concrete is not sustainable.
There are presently no global leaders willing to help humanity out of this climate crisis. Instead they grant corporations their preferred regulations or get rid of regulations all together. What are our leaders thinking? Our government seems as bad as some other countries with untethered neoliberal capitalism running rampant around the world. It seems corporations are bidding on getting the last of Earth’s resources, not caring what they do to the land, air, water or lives in their way. Money is to be almighty.
So much change is needed for a future without incredible hardships for our children and grandchildren. We don’t need politicians who must ignore it to get elected or to receive handouts from corporate lobbyists. We need young, committed, rational activists who want to work diligently for a livable, healthy world. The people deserve to hear some truth.
Marylin Olds is an opinion columnist for the Kingston Community News. She can be reach at firstname.lastname@example.org.