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Greenhouse Effect

Greenhouse gases trap heat and cause the atmosphere to warm; human actions increase greenhouse gas content in the atmosphere.

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Shrink Your Footprint

Shrink Your Footprint

Credit: Robert Lopez
Source: CK-12 Foundation
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

How much do you warm the planet each year? Yes, YOU. How many global warming gases do you emit as a result of your activities? Most people have no idea – but you can!

What is Your Impact on Earth’s Climate?

Credit: Jolly Janner
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:World_map_of_countries_by_ecological_footprint.svg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Ecological footprints of countries worldwide in 2006 (Footprint factors: built-up land, grazing, forest, fishing ground, cropland, and carbon footprint) [Figure2]

  • Everyone in the modern world uses carbon – lots and lots of carbon. We use carbon for transportation, heating and cooling, building and powering machinery, and many other activities. We use carbon when we fly and carbon when we walk (from the carbon released to grow and transport the food we eat). It’s possible to estimate the amount of carbon that is emitted due to our activities. This is called our carbon footprint. A person’s carbon footprint is the number of tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases she or he emits in a year.
  • Once you are aware of your carbon footprint, you can do something to lower it. Saul Griffin, a San Francisco engineer, knows exactly how much carbon he emits. Dr. Griffin is spending his life figuring out how to lower that number.

Can You Apply It?

With the links below, calculate your carbon footprint. Then watch the video to see what one engineer is doing to reduce his. After you have done these things, answer the following questions.

  1. What are your total greenhouse gas emissions? How does your carbon footprint compare with the U.S. average? How does your carbon footprint compare with the world average per person?
  2. What actions can you take to reduce your carbon footprint?
  3. What are the two biggest items in most Americans’ energy bills?
  4. Why does Saul Griffin measure all of the carbon that he uses and develop products that will decrease his carbon footprint?
  5. What invention was featured in the video about Saul Griffin? What is the advantage of this invention over what is normally used?

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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Robert Lopez; Source: CK-12 Foundation; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Jolly Janner; Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:World_map_of_countries_by_ecological_footprint.svg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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