One Ton of Carbon Emissions: What Does That Look Like?
In one year, the average citizen in an industrialized country produces about 10 tons of carbon emissions. In that same time period, the average American creates 23 tons of CO2. In 2010, New York City emitted 54 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and a single hour of the city’s CO2 emissions amounted to 6,204 metric tons.
You may be wondering: What does all this mean? Can you imagine what that much pollution looks like?
In 2009, the United Nation’s climate talks in Copenhagen attempted to answer these questions. To that end, Millennium ART, the United Nations Department of Public Information, Google and YouTube released CO2 CUBES: Visualize a Tonne of Change. Measuring 27′ x 27′ x 27′, the CO2 CUBES represent one metric ton of carbon dioxide. The structure reflects the carbon footprint that an average citizen in an industrialized country produces in one month; this same amount is created by a U.S. citizen in only two weeks. The hope was that if the public could see the actual size of a ton of gas (and not just imagine it), they would begin to understand their impact on the planet and work to find solutions to minimize the damage.
Another way to visualize what a ton of carbon emissions looks like is through online calculators like the terrapass Carbon Footprint Calculator. This tool uses different formulas to break down how much pollution individuals, businesses and events create.
To understand the gravity of carbon pollution, it’s helpful to have a concrete image of what our impact is. Tools like carbon calculators and CO2 Cubes help us do just that. They make us aware of our carbon footprint with the goal of reducing it.
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