By Ruth Dsouza
Global warming, climate change, deforestation, carbon footprint – these are all terms that are constantly floating on the periphery of our attention. We do have a working knowledge of what they mean and the impact, but more often than not tend to skim over them to other things that “better deserve” our attention. Making a difference after all is best left to the all the green warriors since they are the ones with the real understanding of what is going on.
But then, every once in a while, the inner green soldier does rattle your conscience and you feel the need to do something – but it all seems overwhelming. Well, what we if said that making a difference is simply a matter of changing the way you do a few things. The change is so negligible that you will slip into the new pattern hardly noticing it at all. Now that we have your attention, let’s take the concept of carbon footprint and the simple ways of bringing it down.
How big is our carbon footprint?
Every activity that is done to help us humans, in a direct or indirect manner results in the production of some greenhouse gases. This is measured in terms of carbon-di-oxide (CO2). Air-conditioning of home, the making of processed foods and even commuting in your vehicle all results in the creation of CO2. A carbon footprint is the total of all the emissions that you generate over a specific period of time, for all the activities you indulge in.
In Bangalore, it is a common thing for every household to have at least two cars and as many bikes. Traffic in Bangalore has reached unprecedented levels of congestion and vehicles caught idling for long periods of time naturally contribute to the already high levels of carbon emission. In fact, recent research placed Bangalore as the third highest in terms of carbon emissions from multiple sources.
“There is also an inherent problem as most vehicles in India do not conform to international standards emission,” says Prof MN Sreehari, Traffic Advisor and Consultant, Government of Karnataka. Some of the highest standards in the world are the Euro and Japanese standards. There are also several other reasons, directly related to traffic that increases carbon emissions – the adulteration of fuel we use and engines not being manufactured to conform to international standards of emission, he adds.
What can we do?
So now comes the part where you are presented with a few simple solutions that can help bring down carbon emissions when you are on the move. It may take a little getting used to and perhaps a little change in mindset, but once you are able to wrap your head around it, you will see some really tangible results and will be happy that you made the change. Here are some suggestions by Prof Sreehari:
· If you plan to go on long distance trips –fuel up completely and ensure that a complete maintenance of the car has been carried out. The tires have to have the prescribed level of air in them
· Ensure that your car is serviced by authorized dealers no matter how tempting the savings that your local garage assures you
· The same logic goes with replacing car parts – stick to the originals. The car comes together as a whole to give you optimum results and with genuine parts its performance is enhanced and emissions reduced
· Though it may be difficult within the city, driving at 40-45 kmph gives you the best use of the car, ensuring carbon emissions are at an minimum
An ideal situation would also be where the government brought in some stringent rules to curb carbon emissions and ensure that they are enforced as well. All it takes is a few simple changes to the way we do things and we can do our bit, till the government catches up with the necessary legislation.