Under (Carbon) Budget Again – Academic Year Edition


I keep track of my carbon footprint on a regular basis.  My carbon budget goal is four tons of direct impacts on an annual basis. Since the cycle of my seasons follows the academic cycle of class semesters, the start of the academic year in the beginning of September seems like a good time to take stock for a twelve month cycle – better than December 31, which always seems to split one winter season in half.

So I finally got around to checking my utility bill so I could close out the gas part of my ’16-’17 academic year carbon footprint – and I undershot my four ton budget again. My total footprint for the year was about 6500 pounds, or about 3.25 English tons of CO2E. Big ticket items on my carbon tab this year included my share of the natural gas for heating and cooking (nearly one ton CO2E), one round trip flight to Utah to attend the Waterkeeper Conference (also about one ton CO2E), and my share of gas for the Prius when we drove to our mountain cabin upstate or to visit our son in Pennsylvania (a little over one-half ton CO2E).

For all the grief I get from my even-greener-than-thou friends, my occasional hamburgers and steaks only worked out to about 300 pounds of CO2E for the year – about ten pounds of beef for the year. That’s just a little bit more than the 284 pounds CO2E from my share of the diesel we burned in our sailboat.  But that diesel included taking the boat from Charleston to the Bahamas and back to New York, as well as several trips to the ocean and to Block Island. Can’t beat a sailboat for low-carbon hedonism.

I have now kept detailed track of my carbon footprint for two consecutive academic years.  Both years I substantially undershot my four ton budget without giving up anything that is really important to me. It can be done!


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