I decided to calculate my personal greenhouse impact, and to record the data and equations I used to do it.
I hope that you will find this page useful. Any suggestions on how the page might be improved would be appreciated; email address is above. I believe the conversion factors that I have used are approximately correct; in many cases it is imposible to have exact figures (eg. brown coal has a highly variable composition and power stations that burn brown coal vary in their efficiencies). Obviously I'd like to be informed of any errors that I might have made.
Personal greenhouse impact calculation
Please note that this page deals only with the greenhouse gas Carbon dioxide (CO2)CO2 is the most important man-made greenhouse gas because of the very long time that it remains in the atmosphere. There are other significant man-made greenhouse gasses.
All these calculators depend on some asumptions, you should
take the results as being a guide rather than being exact.
Use this calculator to find out how much carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere following a known amount of electricity consumption. You could get your consumption from your electricity bills.
The transmission loss is the percentage of the electricity generated that is lost before it gets to your home; in general, the further you are from the power station the greater the transmission loss. For example the Queensland (Australia) Government in its Net page Energy Losses in the Transmission and Distribution Systems, states that the annual, weighted average transmission and distribution loss factor in Queensland is about 10%, and that the loss factor would be higher when demand is higher, lower when demand is lower.
More on boiling water:
The minimum amount of water that a typical
cordless electric jug can heat is 480mL. Every time one of these is used to
heat a mug of water (about 280mL) for tea or coffee, starting from 25 degrees
Celcius, I calculate that 0.018 kWhs is wasted in boiling that extra 200mL.
Assuming that this electricity is from a brown coal fired power station 23g
of unnecessary CO2 is released to the atmosphere. If this is done twice a day
for a year we have 17kg of CO2. Who is carefull to fill a jug exactly to
the minimum mark? If the jug is filled 20% above the minimum
(576mL rather than 480mL), then the figure
becomes 24kg of unnecessary CO2 per year - just from making two mugs of
tea each day!
CO2 calculated from fuel usedIf you know (or can estimate) how much vehicle fuel you have used you can use this calculator to convert that into released atomospheric carbon dioxide. Alternatively you can use another calculator to work out your CO2 based on distance travelled.
Note: The constant 3.6667 is for converting kg of carbon to kg
of CO2. One kg of carbon combines with 2.6667kg of oxygen
to form 3.6667kg of CO2.
CO2 calculated from distance travelledUse this calculator to compare driving your car with using public transport.
The figures from this calculator depend on assumptions made about the number of passengers in the particular mode of transport (that is, the 'load factor'). Obviously a 40 passenger bus with only half a dozen people in it is not an efficient form of transport.
CO2 abatementUse this calculator to get an approximate figure of how much CO2 will be taken from the atmosphere by a stand of growing trees.
There is an example of the use of this calculator on About Me
On my own property at Clare in South Australia, with an annual rainfall of
about 600mm, I have estimated that eucalypt trees gain something like 200%
increase in mass annually from about year 1 to year 5, then perhaps 100%
annually to year 10. This supposes that they are not competing with their
Greenhouse emissions by transport typeSome figures on greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles are given on this EPA Victoria page. I have reproduced these below:
In the first table I have added the third column; in that column 3 passengers are assumed, including the driver.
In this table I have also added the third column, in that column I have assumed two-thirds of a full passenger load.
Useful links and referencesNo longer available. An Australian greenhouse calculator, from the EPA of Victoria, Australia. This claims to be able to calculate the greenhouse impact of your home. It seemed to me to be unnecessarily complicated. I believe it to be simpler to use electrical (and gas and heating oil, if applicable) consumption records.
No longer available. A useful 'intercity transport emissions calculator' is at Climate Change Solutions.
No longer available. Relating to the carbon content of wood, "Analysis of Wood Product Accounting Options for the National Carbon Accounting System" report of the Australian Greenhouse Office.
Some of the figures used here for specific gravity were obtained from List of common conversion factors (University of California-Berkeley Astronomy Department).
No longer available. CO2 from air travel, Air Travel Emissions (Rocky Mountain Institute).
Derivation of conversion factors - technical