Carbon footprint, energy use, green tech: some phrases that won't be going away. From gasoline prices to global warming, we're likely to become more aware of what energy we burn up, just as most of us now have some sense of whether we're eating wisely (or not).
Just today the Live Earth concert folks e-mailed me a link to their carbon calculator. This one walks you through several pages of simple questions about how you live, and especially how you travel. This calculator was built by Earthlab.org. They want to know the size of your dwelling, your car if you own one, energy bills, airplane and daily travel. After going through their process, I can't imagine how bad an airline pilot would look, environmentally speaking.
My score on the Earthlab quiz: 301, and 11 tons of carbon. So I'm clearly doing my bit to warm the planet. Live Earth folks say they'll post overall test scores and more information on 7-7-07.
Then there's this site, which gives you the really bad news--how many planets humanity would need to supply energy if everybody lived as you do. My score: 6.3 planets. I think that translates into a couple more solar systems 'cause I don't get the sense there's a whole lot of oil, coal or biofuels to be had out beyond Venus. I could probably do nicely with a tiny sun, however.
Then the Yahoo folks have built a carbon dioxide emissions calculator. My score was pretty much the same as what I got from Earthlab...until I added in my infrequent air travel. From a few plane trips: 21.8 tons of carbon dioxide. Where are the calls for solar planes? Or goose-powered, or human-paddled balloons, or something? How about those Star Trek transponders that would beam you up? Could they be energy efficient? No crappy airline "food" either.
Altogether these sites are: depressing, educational, geared to getting you to do something about your consumption patterns. Turn off your work computer when you are done for the day (or night). Carry your own shopping bags. Use alternative energy when possible. Use efficient bulbs and appliances. Walk more. Freak out over air travel. All good advice. And aimed at making each of us less of a carbon bigfoot.