Arney Family CO2 Over Time

Written by Mike

Arney Family CO2So I'm sure you've been wondering... just what is Mike's carbon footprint, if he's out there trying to be so eco-cool?  Well, maybe not.  But if you're curious about the possibility of tracking your carbon emissions over time, take a look.  Eventually (late 2012?  Let's not rush into anything...) I would like for anyone to be able to create an account here at, enter some data in a relatively painless way, and get a graph something like this.

There are lots of carbon footprint tools out on the web.  But I don't know of anything that tracks your carbon over time -- and that's what we really care about, isn't it?  The goal is to improve from where we are at now, not show how well we're keeping up with the Joneses.  And ultimately, it's got to get down to zero, or close to it, and pretty darn fast.

If you go to to the graph page itself (click on the graph to the left or the link at the bottom of this article), you will notice that our family trend line is not a dramatic downward slope.  Part of what muddies the waters is plane travel.  In our household, plane trips account for about 1/3 our carbon emissions.  The past few years our trips have been somewhat predictable (for instance Margaret attending church retreats in Colorado), but things like my grandmother's birthday party in Boston (4/2004) make a very visible difference.  If you uncheck trend line (4) on the Legend ("Home + Car + Plane"), you'll exclude plane travel and see a cleaner trend line.

Of course this graph just shows direct emissions, in particular, natural gas, electricity, gas for the car, and plane travel.  It does not include carbon associated with waste removal, food consumption, or consumer purchases.  Nor does it include all the carbon emitted by people and organizations we give our money to (eg the gym, the Sierra Club, the Federal Government).

According to David Gershon's Low Carbon Diet, the typical American family emits something like 4,500 pounds CO2 per month.  They typical German family emits 2,250 per month; the typical Swedish family, 1,250.  I don't know how much these numbers include of the items not in my graph (eg waste, food).

For any techies out there, the cool graphing capability is provided by a terrific JavaScript library called DyGraphs, developed by a very helpful person named Dan.

Check it out the Arney carbon footprint.

Last Updated on Sunday, 22 May 2011 12:03