Measuring carbon footprints will help us save the planet Earth. The release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere has a lot of effects on the global average temperature.
Carbon dioxide constitutes the largest amount of greenhouse gases that are emitted into the atmosphere. It wouldn’t be out of place to consider what the effects of different greenhouse gases have on the environment.
Carbon dioxide is not the only greenhouse gas although it has the highest percentage. There are other gases such as methane, chlorofluorocarbons, and nitrous oxide among others.
Designing the right metrics for measuring the impact of greenhouse gases. It can be nontrivial but important for setting the appropriate standards to limit anthropogenic climate change.
As was carried out in the Kyoto Protocol.
Carbon Footprint is a concept that defines the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on the environment and climate change.
The general standard that is used in measuring carbon footprint is Carbon Dioxide (CO2e). Which is expressed as Parts Per Million Volume (PPMV).
The logic behind this concept is to be able to express the impact of each greenhouse gas. In respect of the amount of carbon dioxide that would create an equivalent warming effect.
As a result of this, a carbon footprint consists of several greenhouse gases that are expressed as a single number.
The gases present are converted into equivalent amounts of CO2 using standard ratios. These ratios are determined based on the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of the gases present, this shows the total impacts of the gases relative to CO2 over a specific period usually 100 years.
Over this period, methane scores 25 (this means that one metric ton of methane will result in the same amount of warming impact as 25 metric tons of CO2) according to the standard data.
Nitrous oxide has 298 and some other greenhouse gases that are super-potent have over 10,000 according to standard data.
There have been lots of debates regarding the efficiency of the Global Warming Potential (GWP) since its introduction.
The choice of a time horizon is a major bone of contention in the adequacy of GWP. For instance, a gas that is immediately eliminated from the atmosphere might have an initial large effect. When it is there for a longer period, it might become less potent as it is being removed.
This is the reason why methane for instance has a potential of 72 over 20 years and 25 over 100 years.
While sulfur hexafluoride has a GWP of 16,300 over 20 years and 23,900 over 100 years.
Going by this analysis, taking methane as an example. The impact of methane and the importance of combating its sources such as landfill sites and agriculture.
It depends on whether you are more concerned about the next few centuries or the next few decades.
The 100-year time frame stipulated by the Kyoto Protocol focuses more on the effects of emissions.
On short-lived species in the near-term climate fluctuations than on emissions of long-lived greenhouse gases (GHG).
The values from GWP should not be considered as being exact since they are dependent on gas concentration decay over some time in the environment and this value is not usually known.
Regardless of this inadequacy of GWP, it is generally accepted by policymakers across the globe to measure the effect of different greenhouse gases on the environment.
BalancedEarth.org can help individuals to lower their carbon footprint, with different programs to donate to.