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When it comes to carbon footprints, location and lifestyle matter
Date:4/15/2011

Tips to reduce your carbon footprint frequently include buying compact florescent light bulbs, taking your own bag to the grocery store or buying local produce. But how much difference do these actions make?

A new study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, suggests that who you are and where you live make a big difference in which activities have the largest impact.

"Everyone has a unique carbon footprint," says Christopher M. Jones, lead author of the study and a researcher in UC Berkeley's Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL). "There is no one-size-fits-all set of actions that people should take."

The study by Jones and RAEL director Daniel Kammen, a UC Berkeley professor of energy and resources who currently is on leave at the World Bank, appears in the current issue of the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Carbon footprints are a measure of the greenhouse gases released during the production, use and disposal of products and services. The production phase includes all processes between the time raw materials are extracted from Earth until they reach consumers as finished products in stores. The study considers the carbon footprint of all household economic activity, including transportation, energy, food, goods, services, water and waste.

California vs. Missouri footprint

As an example, the report highlights the carbon footprints of two fictitious households: an upper-income couple living in San Francisco with no children, and a middle-income family with three children living in St. Louis, Mo. Each of these households contributes to the atmosphere about the same amount of greenhouse gases per year, but the sources of those emissions are very different, the study found.

Motor vehicles and air travel are the largest sources of emissions for the San Francisco couple, while electricity and food dominate emissions for the St. Louis family.

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Contact: Robert Sanders
rsanders@berkeley.edu
510-643-6998
University of California - Berkeley
Source:Eurekalert

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