Hi there tout la gang,

We don't have much to say about research in practice at the Café right now

but we are talking policy and practice over here now: Literacy Enquirers.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


As I was inspired to turn on the air conditioner last week, I decided to check out my carbon footprint. There are a number of carbon calculators online.

The Canadian calculator is One Less Ton. It is action oriented. You answer a series of questions about your carbon use and get suggestions of ways to reduce your emissions. This is a good approach but they make some assumptions that make answering the 20 questions pretty irritating. For example, one is asked questions about choices of gasoline but never asked if one drives. I never purchase gasoline but that is not an answer option.

The Safe Climate calculator may give an accurate number for travel (by car and plane only) and household utility emissions. It takes into account where you live when calculating your household emissions and makes the calculation based on the sources of fuel in your region. However, you need to know the number of kilometers for flights and car trips as well things like the average number of kilowatt hours of electricity you use each month. This, of course, takes one to other calculators and can be a bit complicated.

I looked at a number of sites where you can calculate the emissions for specific activities and buy "carbon offsets" ~ you pay for emission-reductions elsewhere instead of reducing your own. Most of them are pretty easy to use and give us an idea about impact. I am not sure how I feel about this capitalist approach to environmentalism. I think that we should be responsible for our own mess but perhaps it is better to make less mess than pay for someone else to clean it up.

The site that I thought would be the most useable with students is the UK Footprint Calculator. It uses flash (I think) so may not be accessible to dial up connections. You can make a number of choices in pop-down menus and watch the graphs and numbers change as you do. You can check things such as how much difference it might make if one became a vegetarian or took the bus more often. You can answer according to your own circumstances or set up scenarios and check different results.

Let us know if you use this kind of material in your programs and what sites you use.

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