CO2

How much atmospheric carbon dioxide do I generate in a year?

Estimations

I haven’t kept meticulous records, so all of this is based on estimation.

Before doing any research, I would estimate the following (in order) as my major contributors to atmospheric CO2.

  1. home energy usage
  2. commuting
  3. road trips

Next, I will try to estimate how much CO2 each of these generates.

Household

Average usage is 723.6 kWh for the last 12 months, but next year should be better since we installed solar in January:

electricity_usage.png

How much CO2 does is that? This site says 280kg.

Commuting

I commuted 3 times a week this (16-week) semester for teaching in-person, plus a few dozen other times to go to the office. Last semester was similar, and this summer I’ll be teaching in-person 4 days a week for 6 weeks.

My commute is a wonderfully short 3.8 miles one way, so a year’s worth of commuting for me is:

The same site as before lets you plug in your car’s make/model, so for me this adds up to 340kg. That’s more than I was expecting!

Road Trips

My family likes to take a trip during the summer if work allows, so add another 540kg.

Totals

category kg CO2
house 280
commute 340
trips 540
total 1160

Flights

I haven’t been on a flight in a long time, but this site has an estimate of how much carbon is generated for various flights. The totals are “per-person” which I assume means the plane’s output divided by the number of passengers and crew.

If I want to visit Europe for a vacation instead of doing a road trip, what’s the net difference?

O’Hare to Heathrow and back is 1037kg (497kg more than the road trip).

Fair Comparison?

There’s a problem with this comparison: the air travel calculation is per-person, but my road trip calculation is not.

Bringing the same number of people to Europe as in the road trip brings the air total to 4148kg. Or, dividing the road total by the number of people in the car brings the road trip total down to 135.

Either way, a 2-way transatlantic flight is almost 8x more CO2 than driving across the US and back.

Conclusions

First, happy Earth day! Second, I should bike more.