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Energy and Society Carbon Footprint Exploratory Essay

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Updated: Jan 16th, 2020


Energy is indispensable in modern society because people use it when performing various activities that are critical for human survival. Although energy is indispensable in human existence, different forms of energy have different impacts on the environment due to their pollution.

Since fossil fuel is the most common form of energy that people use in running industries, vehicles, and generating electricity, it releases carbon dioxide into the environment. Carbon dioxide is one of the greenhouse gases that human activities generate.

According to the City of Hayward, high levels of carbon dioxide cause drought, lower agricultural productivity, increase occurrence of floods and storms, and enhance risks of diseases (3).

Owing to grave environmental impacts of carbon dioxide, climatologists recommend a reduction in the use of energy associated with fossil fuels. Given that individuals and families contribute to the amount of carbon dioxide emissions, reduction of carbon footprint is imperative.

Essentially, carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide that an individual emits in a year. Therefore, this essay seeks to calculate carbon footprint that I contribute to the environment in Hayward, CA.


Generation of electricity using fossil fuels contribute to the carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming.

Usually, generation of power from water, natural steam, and wind is not enough, and thus the use of fossil fuels is necessary to supplement the electricity generated from renewable sources.

According to the City of Hayward, unplugging of electrical appliances reduces electricity ‘leakage’ because one can save up to 26% of electricity usage (4).

At home, electricity is the major source of energy because electrical appliances such as computers, televisions, fridges, phones, and cookers consume electricity daily.

In this view, the number of electrical appliances that one uses and the manner of using them apparently determine the rate of power consumption. Hence, by using electricity, one is responsible for the increase in the carbon dioxide emissions.

Basing on the electrical appliances that I utilize, I can calculate the amount of electricity that I utilize per month, and then translate to the carbon footprint. I use a computer that consumes about 30kWh per month, which is equal to 360kWh per year.

Television is another electrical appliance that consumes about 25kWh per month, which means that television consumes about 300kWh annually. Additionally, I have a fridge that normally consumes about 40kWh of electricity per month.

Per year, the fridge then consumes about 480kWh. An electric cooker is an appliance that consumes a significant amount of electricity since it consumes about 100kWh per month, which translates into 1200kWh.

Overall, the total amount of electricity that I consume per year equals to about 2340kWh. Since one kWh generates 0.524 lbs of CO2, calculations show that the total amount of CO2 generated from 2340kWh of electricity is 1226.16 lbs.

This means that carbon footprint generated from electricity per year is 1226.16 lbs.

Gasoline and Diesel

Gasoline and diesel are some of the common fossil fuels that people use when travelling from one place to another. Motor vehicles, motorcycles, train, and airplane consume these fossil fuels, thus generating carbon dioxide, which contributes to the global warming.

Statistics show that about “one third of the CO2 produced in the United States is from the transportation of people or goods” (City of Hayward 4). Since people must travel from one place to another, they utilize a lot of fossil fuels and increase their carbon footprint.

Hence, to reduce carbon footprint, climatologists recommend that people need to use public transport, bicycles, or live close to their workplaces.

The amount of fossil fuels that I utilize is dependent on the means of transport that I use when traveling to and from work and school, or running errands. When driving to work, I normally use about 2 gallons of diesel.

In a month, I use about 60 gallons of diesel, which translate to about 720 gallons of diesel per year. Moreover, I use approximately 1 gallon of gasoline in motorcycle daily, which implies that I use 30 gallons per month and 360 gallons per year.

Occasionally, I use the train when traveling to and fro school or work, a distance of about 15 miles per month. Annually, I cover a distance of about 350 miles using the train.

Sometime I take city bus when running errands and I travel a distance of about 20 miles per month, which translates to 480 miles annually.

During the weekend I travel a distance of 600 miles to and fro using an airplane. Per month, it means that I travel a distance of 2400 miles, while per year I travel a distance of 28800 miles.

From the data showing the amount of fossil fuels that I utilize when traveling, I can calculate the amount of carbon footprint. When driving to and from school and workplace, I use about 720 gallons of diesel per year.

Given that one gallon of diesel produces 22.3 lbs of CO2, it means that 780 gallons of diesel generate 16056 lbs of carbon dioxide.

Additionally, motorcycle uses about 360 gallons of gasoline per year. Since one gallon of gasoline generates 19.5 lbs of CO2, 360 gallons of gasoline then produce 7020 gallons of CO2. Using train, I cover a distance of 350 miles per year. In carbon emission, a train produces 0.6 lbs of CO2 per mile.

Hence, 350 miles annually generates approximately 210 lbs of CO2. By using bus transport, I cover a distance of about 480 miles annually. As a bus produces 0.7 lbs of CO2 per mile, it means that it generates 336 lbs of CO2 annually.

Additionally, airplane covers a distance of 28800 miles annually. Normally, one mile of flight generates 0.4 lbs of CO2, which means that 28800 miles produces 11520 lbs of CO2.

Natural Gas

Natural gas is also a fossil fuel that people always utilize at their homes when cooking food. Since it is the major source of energy in cooking, its use in homes contributes to the carbon footprint.

“Energy in the form of natural gas and electricity accounted for 33.5 percent of Hayward’s emissions” (City of Hayward 49). On a daily basis, I utilize an average of 5 therms, which translate to 150 therms per month and 1800 therms per year.

As one therm generates 13.446 lbs of CO2, carbon footprint generated from the use of 1800 therms of natural gas is 24202.8 lbs of CO2.

Carbon Footprint

The table below indicates 54270 lbs of CO2 as carbon footprint that I generate annually in Hayward.

Source of CO2 Amount of CO2 in lbs
Electricity 1226.16 lbs
Gasoline 720 lbs
Diesel 16056 lbs
Natural gas 24202.8 lbs
Train 210 lbs
Flight 11520 lbs
Bus 336 lbs
Total 54270.96 lbs

Since one short ton is 2000 lbs, 54270 lbs equal to 27.135 short tons. Comparatively, a single family produces about 40 short tons of carbon footprint.

As a single person, I produce about 27 short tons per year, which is quite high for a single person because a family produces 40 short tons. Thus, the calculated carbon footprint is close to 40 short tons, a national average carbon footprint of a single family.

Number of Trees to Offset Emissions

Trees play an important role in the purification of air because they absorb and utilize CO2 during the process of photosynthesis.

Hence, to offset carbon footprint, people need to plant enough number of trees. Since a tree can absorb 670 pounds of CO2, the number of trees that can absorb 54270 lbs is 81. Thus, I should plant 81 trees to offset the carbon footprint that I emit annually.


Although energy is critical for human survival, emission of CO2 has serious environmental impacts because it is a greenhouse gas that causes global warming.

Measurement of the carbon emission is a complex process that requires assessment of human activities ranging from industrial to household activities. Thus, carbon footprint provides a means of measuring the extent of carbon emission that individuals generate per year.

In Hayward, environmentalists have come up with numerous strategies to ensure that individuals contribute to the environmental conservation by reducing the amount of carbon footprint.

The assessment of the carbon footprint shows that I contribute about 54270 lbs of CO2, which comprise approximately 27 short tons. To offset 54270 lbs of CO2, I need to plant 81 trees because each tree absorbs 670 pounds.

Works Cited

City of Hayward. . 8 October 2009. Web.

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