Talk:Carbon footprint

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Carbon Footprint Term[edit]

Question regarding definition: Why is water vapour not included in the list of greenhouse gases ? Surely if you go into a greenhouse and measure the differences between environment inside and outside the greenhouse, the major differences are temperature, relative humidity and concentrations of carbon dioxide and oxygen. Any sort of carbon combustion emits water plus CO2 but the heat capacity of water vapour is much higher than any of the other gases and has a much higher capacity store heat energy. Water vapour seems to be more influential than any of the other gases mentioned. Why is it not included in the list of GHG? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:08, 14 September 2014 (UTC)

Who coined the term carbon footprint? I have a friend who says its al gore, but I have strong doubts. I believe it is scientific. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Z347gj1 (talkcontribs) May 25, 2006 (18:55 UTC).

Great question, especially when you realize that Al Gore is a major shareholder and CEO of Generation Investment Management, a company that sells the carbon offsets. How convenient that he produced a documentary (can you spell infomercial?) that promotes the practice of offsetting our impact on the environment with such a purchase. Hmmm... smells fishy to me. --M.S. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) March 4, 2007 (14:45 UTC).
Actually, he's Chairman, rather than CEO (purely a point of fact, it doesn't really affect the argument). The more serious question is whether the claim that Generation Investment Management sells carbon offsets is actually true. I can find no evidence of this. --Salvadors 17:16, 25 April 2007 (UTC)

My first encounter with the term was through BP advertising, and I had assumed they coined the phrase. They were certainly responsible for popularising it in the UK. Would be nice to nail down the origins though. Xyster 30 May 2007
I am wondering (as a non native) why the metaphor 'footprint' is used. - OliverGassner 16 June 2007
The idea of footprinting is at least 8 years old (1999) to my knowledge and came from a desire to explain how unsustainable western lifestyles are particularly in the context of global equity.ExampleDB42 (talk) 12:44, 29 November 2007 (UTC)
I would say a footprint is an effective metaphor that communicates a sense of 'leaving something behind.' There is the leave no trace motto in hiking, that you only take pictures and memories and only leave footprints. So the idea of a footprint here, is that we can understand our impacts and the size of them and use that to adjust them. --Ryandwayne (talk) 13:00, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

Carbon footprint calculators[edit]

I've looked at some of the carbon footprint calculators on the Web (e.g. and, and there seem to be a lot of differences between the readings I get. Any expert opinions on which online calculators are best? Also, maybe there should be a section on the major contributors to the carbon footprint e.g. car miles travelled, fuel-efficiency of car, air travel, home heating, buying local vs imported produce, etc. I know I was pretty shocked by how much a few flights a year contributed to my "score" (no matter which calculator I used, that was the biggest factor) Fionah 20:25, 11 April 2006 (UTC)

Nobody else was doing it, so I added a section on activities that affect the footprint. Maybe someone with more expertise in this area could edit this. Fionah 10:07, 9 June 2006 (UTC)

--This site review carbon and ecological footprint calculators:

Sooty Footprints![edit]

Carbon footprints are, presumeably, produced by people who have walked through powdered carbon? Carbon dioxide doesn't produce footprints! Why are so many people now so ignorant as to equate 'carbon' with 'carbon dioxide'? By the way, what word do people use to stand for carbon monoxide, carbon disulphide, carbon tetrachloride, etc - 'carbon'? Viclud

--you seem to have missed the point here somewhat. The carbon in carbon footprint stands for carbon dioxide, a common abreviation made for the sake of convenience.

I strongly suggest as a resource for anyone interested in learning about carbon risk and the most sophisticated ways to really make a difference. There is very little understanding out there regarding what an appropriate offset is and carbon solutions group is out there educating interested companies and other entities.

I registered to ask/say this: Isn't there an inherent disservice to the public when complex concepts are abbreviated, to such a degree, for the sake of convenience? A growing number of people associate the word carbon in 'carbon footprint' with the simplified and somewhat hysterical idea that carbon IS pollution. Isn't this abbreviation like saying calcium footprint when speaking of how much limestone was used in a building or how much milk you've drunk? It makes sense only in the world of marketing. This in itself is perfectly fine. But there should be a mention of how this term is in growing use to market products and services in "the voluntary market" that have yet to be proven to impact the cycle in a positive or neutral way, and which may in fact increase a clients "carbon" footprint and impact the cycle negatively. Entervisit 01:07, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

Cleaned External Links Section[edit]

This article is filling up with external links which includes some link spammers. Please review WP:EL. Per WP guidelines, when an article starts attracting numerous links, it should be periodically emptied - Wikipedia:WikiProject Spam. Before adding a new link, suggest it first on this Talk page rather than adding to the links section. Calltech 15:51, 21 November 2006 (UTC)

{{helpme}} The plea seems to have gone unheard, as the external links section has again filled up with links to in some cases commercial websites. Moreover, some of these websites may harbour potentially harmful scripts (as per my NoScript). Should an external links section be really maintained for this (and related) articles?Malljaja 16:25, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
If you feel a link is spam, I suggest you be bold and remove it. However, I do see value in leaving one or two links that go through the Carbon footprint calculation for interested readers. The same goes for related articles. You may want to add a <!-- Comment --> in the section to ask future editors to be mindful of spam. Hoof Hearted 16:52, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
Many thanks Hoof Hearted. I'll shed my inhibitions and will come down more harshly on suspect spam links. The very recent edit by Lucasbfr of the external link section of this article was judicial, and I'll do the same when I feel it's needed.Malljaja 17:49, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

Criticism of Carbon (dioxide) footprints/stragegy[edit]

I see nothing in this article of the many criticisms of carbon footprints' use in controlling green issues, and wonder whether this would be of value in presenting a neutral article. For example, the UK government wants to encourage all new houses to be carbon-neutral, yet the net effect of this is negligable when the "developer housing" they are encouraging are built with an expected lifespan of only 100 years, since at least 50% of the carbon cost is in the construction and material of the house itself. There are numerous other examples; carbon strategies are well-meaning, but often miss the point. Worth including? Graldensblud 20:19, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

If someone can find referenced criticism from reliable sources, that would be a v useful addition. For example, it think that the Economist had a recent article critising "food miles". Fionah 10:11, 15 January 2007 (UTC)

We need more specific criticism of aspects of carbon footprints like the above comments. I mean take this: "One criticism of the term carbon footprint is that it is politically correct." - is this a joke or what? virutally all modern ideas being seriously discussed are labelled politically correct by someone. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:41, 2 January 2008 (UTC)

I have removed the PC criticism till someone cares to argue it, and restructured the section anyway. Criticism of the global warming consensus should not be repeated here, so I have replaced that with links to appropriate articles PJTraill (talk) 00:08, 8 January 2008 (UTC)

Carbon Footprint Relation to Global CO2 PPM[edit]

Can anyone provide information on how carbon emissions are related to global CO2 concentrations? Even something simple would be appreciated. Mike wiki 23:36, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

==ignores ecological biocapacity of countries in question==

going per capita is simplistic, one must consider the carrying capacity of the land as well. large forrested land areas are carbon sinks that offset the emissions

Unreferenced Tag[edit]

This article does not contain a single reference and is all Original Research.Prester John 03:39, 24 June 2007 (UTC)

GHG Footprint[edit]

Perhaps it would be better to make a new article called GHG-footprint and put 'carbon footprint' in it (as it is only a part of it).

Does anyone else think it is ironic there is a disclaimer for this topic stating "This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards"?? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:18, 8 December 2008 (UTC)

Carbon CO2mpetence Centre[edit]

PE INTERNATIONAL is partner in the consortium "Carbon CO2mpetence Centre". This consortium offers services concerning carbon emission analysis, offsetting and trading solutions. More interesting details can be found on Could you please make it possible to post this link on the articles web site? Thank you.

Personal Carbon Footprint[edit]

When I first heard the term, the context suggested that it referred to the amount of emissions caused by a person over a period of time. I don't know enough about the subject to feel comfortable about extending the definition -- guidance or pointers welcome... --Soundray 14:54, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

Buzzword tag[edit]

Who claims "Carbon footprint" is a buzzword? I intend to remove this tag unless someone can justify it - but I am open to explanation. Not every topical concept is a buzzword. The main point about a buzzword seems to be that it is vague and used to impress rather than to communicate, but "carbon footprint" is fairly clearly defined, apart from the allocation problem. I have also not observed it used as a vague metaphor to impress others. PJTraill (talk) 22:39, 15 January 2008 (UTC)

I have removed it. -- Alan Liefting- (talk) - 03:49, 1 March 2008 (UTC)
Its use among the media and corporations is extremely vague, who often misrepresent the idea. They might claim, for example, that water use or the lack of use of non-biodegradable materials contributes to one's carbon footprint, when no connection can be made between them. Among general opinion, it is simply the scale that measures how much an individual (very specifically) pollutes, uses resources, or even the amount and frequency of bodily emissions they have. The very phrase evokes feelings of guilt and responsibility among listeners. There are two different meanings to the 'Carbon Footprint' one being clearly defined, the other a buzzword. --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 08:31, 9 June 2008 (UTC)
With an option to buy a carbon offset when purchasing airline tickets from some airlines and it's only benefit is to make you feel good about your flight (not any tangible affect such as the verifiable tree being planted and such), I would DEFINITELY describe this ridiculous new made-up hokey gibberish as a buzzword. MiracleMat (talk) 20:51, 9 April 2009 (UTC)

Both "Green" and "Cabon footprint" are in danger of becoming not only buzz words but weasle words. They can be used quite vaguely, even dishonestly, to displel concerns, divert attention, equivocate, mislable, conceal, and lie. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Tonygumbrell (talkcontribs) 22:10, 31 July 2010 (UTC)

Carbon footprints "circle" of different countries may still be helpful[edit]

One of those carbon footprints of different families (as the one in the NGC magazine special) shown in smaller and bigger circles (for resp. families in eg Finland, Mali, USA, ...) could be helpful as extra image. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:04, 11 July 2008 (UTC)

It could be but it's a bit ... selective, no? (I've moved it only because it looked a bit untidy.) Vinny Burgoo (talk) 19:50, 11 July 2008 (UTC)

CO2 production per unit of energy list[edit]

Hi. It seems to me that one very useful statistic that I haven't been able to find on Wikipedia so far (please correct me if I'm wrong) is CO2 production per unit of energy produced (e.g. KWh,MWh). It seems to me that this would be a better measure of ranking countries by environmental impact, as it would offput, say, exported carbon footprints from industrialised to broadly manufacturing nations, while still accounting for inefficient production (e.g. China's small-scale coal power stations). Does anyone know if such a list exists, or how we could go about creating one? Thanks! Hongshi (talk) 04:24, 9 August 2008 (UTC) cleanup Since it was tagged for cleanup last July, the article has been substantially improved. I've removed the cleanup tag. --TS 15:46, 23 January 2009 (UTC)

I suggest changing the order of the sections. Given our title and definition, the first sections should be on carbon footprints, not offsets. As the intro says, offsets are just one technique, so I would put the Kyoto/Offset section near the end.

While changing the order, and to create a logical flow from the definition, I would re-title:
"Carbon Labeling" as Footprints of Products;
"Age-related..." as Footprints of Individuals;
"...Electricity..." as Footprints of Electricity;
"...Heat..." as Footprints of Heat;
"Holidays..." as Footprints of Holidays.
Concerning the Products section, shows many sources to add besides the current items from the Carbon Trust. The external link to the Nature Conservancy calculator seems too limited; there are dozens of calculators, and Nature Conservancy's is not one of the best. Rather than picking one, I suggest links to the comparison sites at or -- Numbersinstitute (talk) 16:17, 29 August 2009 (UTC)

Since there were no objections in over 2 weeks, I did the re-ordering and re-naming of sections. On 1 Sept 2009 an anonymous person deleted the sections on Age-related and Holiday footprints without giving a reason. I am thinking of restoring them unless someone supports their omission. Numbersinstitute (talk) 20:37, 16 September 2009 (UTC)

electricity or energy?[edit]

" [edit] Carbon footprint by energy type

It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Life cycle assessment. (Discuss) 

The following table compares the carbon footprint of various forms of energy generation, from " Surely the above is incorrect and should be electricity not energy generation?

Also why has the link to the carbon footprint of heat been removed?

to be of any use the footproint of heat must be included and this is a good table, which someone oculd incorporate into the article?

Engineman (talk) 12:32, 10 February 2009 (UTC)

Units not defined[edit]

In the table titled Carbon footprint by generation technology, is this grams of CO2, grams of Carbon, or something else? Commentor above says "carbon footprint" is clearly defined... where? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:23, 19 April 2009 (UTC)

I clarified headings, which were pretty cryptic for a general encyclopedia article. Still not clear on thermal vs. electrical units, and source does not clarify it. Can someone else help? Also noted very narrow range of 3 sources. Need more sources, for example as cited in and may continue when I have time. Numbersinstitute (talk) 15:50, 30 September 2013 (UTC)

Carbon footprint of Beef[edit]

I am Geoff Beacon.

My entry on the embodied carbon of beef was removed by a moderator. OK, It did point to a website I set up with a grant from UnLtd, the millennium charity, which has the relevant references. But the moderation has had the effect of denying readers the chance to know the enormous carbon footprint of beef (and the meat of other ruminants).

As far as I can see there is no [[the carbon footprint of beef] on Wikipedia or many other everyday products and activities that were found on the website I set up. Wikipedia would be a much better place than my site.

I did offer to pay a student this summer on the carbon footprint of beef or anything else of his choice without mentioning my site. He couldn't get past the moderator.

Wake up Wikipedia. Your coverage of carbon footprints tells very little about the impact of our everyday lives. You give references to academics that do not disclose their actual figures. Those that do get it wrong (e.g. pig meat and beef do not have the same footprint!) — Preceding unsigned comment added by RedParasol (talkcontribs) 09:24, 30 September 2013 (UTC)


Can someone do a bit of research and make a "summary" section, with sources, that contains, among other things, a breakdown of

1) Total annual Human Generated CO2, worldwide
2) A breakdown (By country) of current annual CO2 generation
3) A graph showing annual CO2 Generation for the 10 most populous countries (different colored lines) for the last century

Such a section would help clarify CO2 generation over the years, and how it relates to current events. Redwood Elf (talk) 14:56, 30 June 2009 (UTC)

Carbon footprint#Carbon footprints of electricity Template:Cleanup[edit]

When I first came across this article, this section was even more of a mess than it is now (it used to include a table of jumbled elements, showing numbers from very self-serving & unreliable source(s) (ie. nuclear power plant(s)/industry(s) touting their own green credentials)). I tried to correct all of the table elements, references and even the text which preceded and followed the table of this section, but alas, I was hesitant to change too much without first consulting the rarely used talk-page for this article, which I didn't have time for, until now.

To clarify, I cited every number that could be traced to a reference, while the un-cited numbers were calculated from already present data & made sense to me to be included in this mostly empty table, and still do. But as I understand wikipedia standards: If it can not be found in a reliable reference; Then it should either be cited as such via the template(s) {{Citation needed}} or {{Verify credibility}} or {{Verify source}} or {{Dubious}} or {{Failed verification}} OR in extreme cases: {{Original research}} then in such a case the original research could/should/would be deleted.

So if anyone wants make changes, even rather big changes to this section, I will not object, that is, if this section and it's table is made more complete, more informative and more reliable (ie. more encyclopedic). That said, I skimmed through the article Wikipedia:Manual of Style, and I still do not know what is expected of us editors to effectively cleanup this section to satisfy the undiscussed whim of the person who installed the Cleanup template. Furthermore, I cannot agree that any part of this section need be included in the article Life cycle assessment and I can not believe a wikipedia article can be considered "Cleaned up" when it is filled with templates suggesting the article be modified. So if you think the Cleanup and/or Mergeto requests are justified, then I think it would be a good idea for you to say why, here and now. -- (talk) 01:02, 25 December 2009 (UTC)

Suggestion on Nuclear Industry stats

I am really reluctant to make changes on this site, as things are controvercial, but this link might be of use:[1]. In the abstract, it says the range of estimates for nuclear industry carbon emissions is from 1.4 gCO2e/kWh to 288 gCO2e/kWh with an average of 66 gCO2e/kWh. This suggests the colored graph is very far off, and the tables likewise. —Preceding unsigned comment added by George H. Harvey (talkcontribs) 16:16, 16 February 2010 (UTC) I also just got information about solar PV technology from Evergreen Solar, it indicates that newer PV carbon footprints range from 20 to 28 gCO2e/kWh. I will see if I can get a link to use as a reference.--ghh 16:44, 17 February 2010 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by George H. Harvey (talkcontribs) I found a reference on newer solar technology: According to this article, the photovoltaic technology reviewed produces about 23.6 grams CO2-equivalent/kwh. This would mean that the table is quite obsolete. —Preceding unsigned comment added by George H. Harvey (talkcontribs) 14:10, 18 March 2010 (UTC)

Resource: 2010 book How Bad Are Bananas?: The Carbon Footprint of Everything ISBN 978-1553658313 by Mike Berners-Lee[edit]

There are one or possibly two small text errors in the section By Area, third sentence: 'nonprofits' should surely be 'nonprofit organizations; and 'academic mooseervice' means nothing to me, and should surely be referenced if there really is such a word as 'mooseervice' ardj--Ardj (talk) 23:38, 15 March 2012 (UTC)

"Save the Planet, Kill Yourself" Meme[edit]

Many enviro groups speak of the importance of having a max of 2, 1, or even 0 kids. Wouldn't suicide be the most eco-friendly thing a person could do for the planet? It's an anti-human cult, I tell ya! (talk) 04:51, 29 July 2014 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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Death toll per gigatonne of carbon[edit]

400 000 people die of climate change annually today, will increase to 600 000 by 2030

annual global CO² emissions = 9800 gigatonnes of carbon (GtC)

Hence 400 000 deaths/9800 gigatonnes of carbon (GtC) or 40,81 deaths per gigatonne of carbon

By comparison, a family car emits 130 grams of CO2 per kilometre (g CO2/km)[1][2] or hence kills only 0,0000000000053053 people per km (1 Gt = 1 000 000 000 000 kg)[3]

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  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ (0,13 x 40,81 / 1 000 000 000 000 )= 0,0000000000053053 people