Cool Climate Network


I posted yesterday about Cool Climate Network’s interactive maps, where you can find find and compare average carbon footprint and average annual vehicle miles traveled by zip code in the US.  I tried in that post to compare the carbon footprints I had calculated here and here to Cool Climate Network’s averages for Joshua Tree, with muddled results because of the variation in carbon footprint numbers each calculators gave me. Today I realized that Cool Climate Network has their own carbon footprint calculator, so I tried it out. I figured I might be better off comparing my carbon footprint to Joshua Tree’s average if they were calculated by the same people.  Who knows, really? I’d love to do a full and convincing inventory, like Saul Griffith in his Long Now talk. Perhaps once I’m licensed…

Cool Climate Network’s carbon footprint calculator is pretty similar to the other three I’ve tried (Carbon Footprint, Nature Conservancy, and Global Footprint Network), but on the simple side. It took about ten minutes. Here are the results:

Cool Climate 2013 Estimate

A total carbon footprint for both Reanna and me of 19.7 tons of CO2 in the last year is “59.9% better than the average household in the United States with 2 people and similar income.” It’s also 55% of the 35.8 tons of CO2 they estimate for average in Joshua Tree. I wonder why they match by income. What I’d really like to know is  our number of standard deviations from the Joshua Tree, US, and worldwide average: where we are on those Bell curves.

Beneath these results, Cool Climate Network lists 41 ways to decrease our carbon footprint, mostly things that the survey did not ask about. We’ve done about 20 of them already, though some we could do more of.  This is another way a more detailed calculator would be better. Those 20 things we’ve done already add up to about 6 tons of CO2, so it may be that our actual footprint is more like 14 tons of CO2.

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These images are from three interactive maps of the US at Cool Climate Network:

JT Average Vehicle Miles

(Joshua Tree in red oval)

Reanna and I drive our Yaris about 1,200 miles a month. That’s less than 40% of average if what they mean is how many miles individuals are traveling in vehicles per month. They could mean how many miles each vehicle travels per month, though, which places us at 75% of average.

JT Average Energy Carbon Footprint

(Joshua Tree in red oval)

JT Average Carbon Footprint

(Joshua Tree in red circle)

I tried out a three carbon footprint calculators (and wrote about it here and here) in 2012, which produced estimates of 10.41, 13.7, and 17 metric tons of CO2 for me. That makes it look like Reanna and I were somewhere between average and 2/3 of average, which I doubt. I bet we’re at half or less of Joshua Tree average–we live in a very small space with solar-generated electricity, don’t spend much money, and drive a fairly efficient vehicle–but I can’t prove it without a really good, thorough carbon footprint calculator. Can anyone recommend one?