Our Carbon Footprint

Believe me, residing in India, bearing the scorching summer heat will raise myriads of diverse questions inside you. Like

“What are the sins you have committed hitherto in life?”

“Why she is trying to get close in this singeing hot weather, Is she trying to kill me.?”

“Is god there?”

“What is the purpose of life”?

“Why god has created human”?

Or sometimes you get epiphanies like:

Oh! That is why we celebrate raksha bandhan in summers and Valentines in winters.

Oh! That is why sales of condoms dip in summers.

And finally comes the gratitude for Water, for electricity and for trees.

But, this pain in the a** (obscene middle finger gesture), ”heat” finally evoked the engineer in me and made me look into the causes.

And behold thy breath, for I am revealing the biggest cause … DUM DUM DUM (author trying to create suspense…..moronic tendencies of author..please bear)

Is “us”. Yeah.. The gullible , petite and innocent human beings.

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We are responsible for releasing tons of GHG-green house gases (like carbon-di-oxide, methane , NOx, water vapours) in the atmosphere via activities like: heating, riding a car, flying in a plane, food and goods production, home electricity consumption etc. For my brothers and their sisters who do not know the meaning of GHG, who actually have a life, well here’s the link for you: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenhouse_gas .

In this post, an attempt to estimate the CO2 emission by each one of us is made. So that each one of us is aware of the impact they are making on environment and an informed decision, on how to reduce the carbon footprint can be taken. This will be concomitant with a minor lifestyle change and major conscience awakening.

Let’s see how many tons of Green house gases we, the most evolved species, are responsible for dumping each day.

Food

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Ever wondered those banal chapattis, rice ,pulses and vegetables , your mom has been preparing for you is responsible for how much of GHG emission ?

(It is strange though, how the absence of a mother can make this banal food delicious, precious and longing.)

Or those delicious, lip smacking leg pieces, dainty mutton or mouth watering fish, which your friend’s mother has been preparing is responsible for how much of GHG emission.

Lo and Behold.. Your brother (only for guys) from another mother has done some research of his own. Though secondary, but research is a research:-p.

According to a research carried out by  Indian Agricultural Research Institute by Dr. Himanshu Pathak and team, the CO2 emission (or equivalent) will depend on one’s diet i.e. vegetarian or non vegetarian and amount consumed.

An excerpt from the research carried out by them:

Food Man Woman
Diet requirement (g)

 

GWP (gCO2 eq.) Diet requirement (g)

 

GWP (gCO2 eq.)

 

Veg Non Veg Veg Non Veg Veg Non Veg Veg Non Veg
Wheat 225 225 78.9 78.9 175 175 61.4 61.4
Pulse 80 65 23.3 18.9 70 55 20.4 16
Rice 250 250 355.9 355.9 175 175 249.2 249.2
Green vegetable (cauliflower) 125 125 19 19 125 125 19 19
Other vegetables (brinjal) 75 75 11.6 11.6 75 75 11.6 11.6
Roots and tubers(potato) 100 100 17.1 17.1 75 75 12.8 12.8
Milk 200 100 156.4 78.2 200 100 156.4 78.2
Apple 30 30 10.7 10.7 30 30 10.7 10.7
Sugar 40 40 33.8 33.8 30 30 25.4 25.4
Oil 40 40 16.9 16.9 40 40 16.9 16.9
Egg 30 20 30 20
Mutton 30 370.5 30 370.5
Total 1165 1110 723.6 1031.5 995 940 583.8 891.7

Balanced diet requirement for adult man and woman per day and associated greenhouse gas emission at moderate level of work.

To summarise:

Balanced diet Men

gCO2 per day

Women

gCO2 per day

Vegetarian 567.2 427.4
Lacto-vegetarian (vegetarian with milk) 723.6 583.8
Ovo-Vegetarian (non-vegetarian with egg), 661 521.2
Non -vegetarian 1031.5 891.7

So if you are a vegetarian (male) you are responsible for emitting 210 kg of CO2 (or equivalent ) annually in the atmosphere.

On the other hand, if you are a non-vegetarian(male) you are responsible for releasing a whopping 380 kg of CO2 (or equivalent ) annually in the atmosphere (almost twice that of a vegetarian).

So if all the non-vegetarians start binging on vegetables, pulses and grains ,”the pale blue dot” will breathe less of CO2. Interesting…

To know how agriculture and animal husbandry leads to GHG emissions, wait for my next article:

Driving:

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Let’s see how our long weekend rides, or workplace commuting, our roving is taking a toll on the environmental health.  Well it mostly depends upon the vehicle type, drive cycle, and engine calibration.

So if you are using a diesel vehicle you are responsible for emitting 2.7 kg of CO2 for every liter of diesel consumed.

And if you are using a petrol or gasoline vehicle, you are emitting 2.4 kg of CO2 for every liter of petrol used.

If you are driving a diesel vehicle of mileage 15 km/lit and you travel around 15000 km annually, you will be consuming 15000/15 i.e. 1000 lit of fuel.

This means that you are releasing around 2.7 tons of CO2 annually in atmosphere.

Now, imagine the number of cars on Indian roads (around 60-70 million) , their usage and mileage.

An electric car doesn’t emit any COper se but you need energy to charge the batteries of electric car. If that energy is coming from fossil fuels, you’ll be responsible for about a ton of CO2 per year (this is covered in more detail in another post); if you have solar panels on your roof that cover your energy needs, your car electric car can be effectively powered by the sun and you can feel good about all those tons of CO2 you are no longer emitting.

Electricity:

electricity-comparison

Do you know the life force behind your air conditioners, lights, fans, televisions, microwaves, mobile phones, kindle etc. Yeah, you are right. It is electricity. Its usance is so imbued in our lives that without it breath will be there but no life.

If I compare the pain of separation with the pain of power cut, it won’t be a “profanation”.

Let’s have a look at energy scenario in India:

According to Wikipedia,” The utility electricity sector in India has a National Grid with an installed capacity of 319.60 GW (as of 31 March 2017.) During the fiscal year 2015-16, the gross electricity generated by utilities in India was 1,116.84 TWh and the total electricity generation (utilities and non utilities) in the country was 1,352 TWh or 1,075.64 kWh per capita. India is the world’s third largest producer and fourth largest consumer of electricity. Electric energy consumption in agriculture was recorded highest (17.89%) in 2015-16 among all countries. The per capita electricity consumption is low compared to many countries despite cheaper electricity tariff in India.”

It should be noted that about 67.6% energy in India is produced from fossil fuels. This accounts for about 2020 Mt (Mega tonne) of CO2 emissions in the atmosphere. Renewable power plants constituted 30.3% of total installed capacity.

India is a country with a whopping population of 1.3 billion people; this means on average 1.55 tons of CO2 is emitted by every Indian in a year. This is a small figure, far away from the actual number as there are around 400 million people in India which doesn’t have any access to electricity.

According to EPA ,around 0.55 kg of CO2 is produced per kilowatt-hour for electricity at its source and 0.59 kg CO2 per kilowatt-hour for delivered electricity.

In summers i.e. from Mid April to September end (almost 180 days), my electricity consumption is 12 kWh per day and rest of the months it is around 5kWh per day (180 days). So my total electricity consumption is 12*180+5*180 i.e. 3060 kWh. The CO2 load because of my consumption translates to 1.8 tons, higher than the average. This is my household consumption. If there are four members in the family, then per head electricity consumption will be 3060/4 i.e. 765 kWh and CO2 emission will be 1.8/4 tons i.e. 0.45 tons.

Let me know yours?

Stuff:

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Everything we buy from a cloth to a mobile phone has a carbon footprint appended with it. Everything from paper, books, pen, pencil, lotions, face-wash, creams, medicines, clothes, electronic items, cars etc (in short whatever you can think of) is made by burning fossil fuels.

According to a research, 20% of each person’s carbon footprint comes from buying or disposing items.

So if for whole year, I don’t purchase any new stuff and utilize what I already have or buy a used one, the environment won‘t bear the load of my stuff related emissions. Also I will save some money (wink wink).

I can stall my plan to purchase a new mobile when my current mobile is working properly. (Feeling good).

So younger ones, feel free to don on your elder siblings clothes (that too good ones) in the name of environment. :-p

You know what will be more fun, do it without telling them.(devilish smile).

P.S.:  Renew your health insurances.

My carbon footprint:

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If I calculate the amount of CO2 emissions by me:

Driving                  : I ride around 7500 km on annual basis. This amounts to 1.35 tons of CO2 emissions

Food                     : Being a lacto vegetarian, carbon footprint associated with my consumption is 265 kg on annual basis

Electricity            : On average I am responsible for 1.80 tons of CO2 emission , if electricity is produced from fossil fuels.

Stuff                      : 20% of (Driving+Food+Electricity)

i.e. 0.2 * (1.3+0.265+1.80)          =             0.675 tonnes of CO2

Total CO2 emissions are: 4.04 tons

Comparison:

Around 36 Gt of CO2 is emitted by the human population of 7 billion in the year 2015. This translates to per capita CO2 emission of 5 tons (per year).

My carbon footprint is less than world average, but still a huge amount considering the impact it has on environmental health. And not only environment, it has impact on the people I care about.

Entire world is one big family. We are responsible for each other. In order to provide comfort to our loved ones, sometimes we get selfish and ignorant. We start over consuming and the brunt of it is faced by our “brethrens”, our neighbours and our loved ones. Yeah! Our loved ones. They climate change owing to GHG emissions is affecting them also.

If you ponder over it, It is like suffocating your own brother, mother, sister, bongi, son or daughter etc with your own hands, with your own actions. Every ounce of CO2 emitted by you is affecting the people you care about.

It is for the touch you care about

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It is for your responsibility

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Can I reduce my carbon footprint?

Hell yeah! I have made this target of reducing this below two tonnes per year.

How I am planning to do it?

By practicing a “thought”, prevalent since time memorial, mentioned on many occasions in greek , Vedas and Buddhist texts i.e. “moderation”.

  1. Using more of my “pundi” i.e. two wheeler for those romantic rides instead of four wheeler. Moreover the level of intimacy is higher on two wheeler. Speed-Pit-Break, Speed-Pit-Break, Speed-Break-speed –break.(wink-wink). Jokes apart, commuting via my conveyance only when essential and preferring public transport. I will buy a bicycle this year for sure.Tummy will reduce and so the CO2.
  2. No AC July : There was a time when AC was not invented and still we used to have a sound sleep. But after AC, things changed. The first thing I do after entering home is grab a water bottle from refrigerator and switch on the AC. But the question is can I live without it. We will see. If I make it alive( wink wink) then the money which I have saved from electricity bill will be donated to the people who care about environment(or poor farmers etc.). It won’t be much but it will be something.

Dare to take this challenge?

  1. Buying no or only requisite stuff i.e. Clothes, mobiles, groceries etc. Limiting desires. Practicing self control.

Remember

“A thing not purchased is equivalent to thing not made”

 At last, I request all of you to help in reducing my CO2 emission below 2 tons/year. Please let me know of some other methods which can contribute to this impetus.

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