Carbon Steps?

I was recently involved in a very interesting project involving Carbon Footprint.  If you asked me, this was totally referring to the west, and it had nothing to do with our very quiet culture or country – well, so I thought, until the other day it was announced that a certain dam was about to be shut down and another had already been shut down, due to low water levels. 

Now the importance of these dams to Kenyans is that we depend on the water to generate electricity.  If you are a Kenyan you know that lack of water in the dams means that power rationing is not far off.  From past experience, it was never very pleasant to get home in the dark only to discover that your area was actually scheduled for power rationing, which you were aware of but you surprisingly forgot, otherwise you would have been hanging out in the various clubs that Nairobians go to kill time during such rationings.

This actually made me start thinking about the Carbon Footprint that I have heard of for quite some time but seeing as I do not disturb my pretty little head on things that concern me, I had let this one slide.  According to wikipedia, Carbon Footprint is “the total set of GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions caused directly and indirectly by an individual, organization, event or product”. An individual, nation, or organization’s carbon footprint is measured by undertaking a GHG emissions assessment. Once the size of a carbon footprint is known, a strategy can be devised to reduce it.  Apparently, in going about our daily lives — commuting, sheltering our families, eating — each of us contributes to the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change. Yet, there are many things each of us, as individuals, can do to reduce our carbon emissions.

Now the footprint calculation may not make much sense but what I found interesting is ways in which we can actually conserve our environment including:

  1.  Car pooling – This may be a strange phenomenon in Kenya but it has surprisingly worked well for those who have tried it.
  2. Living near where you work / go to school – If you calculate the cost of transport and time wasted as opposed to the argument of how much more rent you will pay, you will realize that it probably would be more economical to life near where you work / go to school.
  3. Leave the guzzler at home – some of the vehicles we see in our roads today are more of prestige than necessity.  If you have one of these, you probably you have a more modest version of it.  So why not use this and leave the guzzler for parties or for those events when you just want to show off?
  4. While you are at it, why not take public transport?  Not only will you reduce carbon emission but as a bonus, you reduce traffic congestion on our roads, and by extension, there will be saner, early people in our offices for that more productivity.
  5. Energy saving bulbs – I will tell you that these are not cheap.  However, what has worked for me is getting at least one or two every month, and you will be surprised at how much energy you start saving, especially with our increased electricity costs.

They may look minute but these measures will help us curb the carbon emission problem before it reaches the maddening levels that we have been seeing in the west, and probably save a little more water in our dams and make electricity go that extra mile.


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