Carbon Offsetting describes the effort to neutralize or reduce the detrimental impact on the environment caused by human activity.
In abstract terms, your carbon footprint is the impact that your everyday activities have on the environment, measured in terms of carbon dioxide emissions.
The Dell Computer Corporation will sell you a tree with the purchase of your personal computer. The tree is planted to absorb carbon dioxide generated in the manufacture and use of the computer.
Carbon Neutral describes any activity or system that emits no net carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The system may emit some CO2 but a logically related system has been secured to sequester an equivalent of CO2.
Carbon credits can be purchased from for-profit companies in order to offset activities that emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Such a company is Generation Investment Management, a private company headquartered in the UK.
Former Vice President and Nobel Prize Winner Albert Gore Jr. claims to live a carbon neutral lifestyle by purchasing carbon credits from companies such as Generation Investment Management.
Mr. Gore is Chairman of Generation Investment Management.
Other greenhouse gasses caused by human activity include methane, nitrous oxide, tropospheric ozone, and chlorofluorocarbons.
A hydrogen-powered car produces no greenhouse gasses from the tailpipe.
A hybrid engine in a car reduces the carbon footprint of the driver by capturing mechanical energy, storing it in a battery, and using it to power the vehicle as needed. The mechanical energy would otherwise be dissipated as heat.
For each US gallon of gasoline consumed as fuel, 19.2 pounds (8.7 kg) of carbon dioxide is emitted.
For each gallon of heating oil consumed, 24.8 pounds (11.26 kg) of carbon dioxide is emitted.
Approximately 1.36 pounds of carbon dioxide is emitted per kilowatt-hour of electricity generated by burning fossil fuels.
Carbon dioxide had been recently (April, 2009) classified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a pollutant.
In 2003, during the Bush administration, the EPA announced that carbon dioxide could not be classified as a pollutant.
The average cheeseburger requires about 6.8 pounds of carbon dioxide to produce. This includes raising, slaughtering, transporting, storing, and cooking the food.
Plants require carbon dioxide to survive the same way that humans require oxygen.
Assuming 10,000 pages per year, an HP LaserJet 2820 has a carbon footprint of 1364 pounds. The associated electricity cost is approximately $95.
NativeEnergy.com sells carbon offsets. The cost for an average US home is $168 per year, which offsets the 24 tons of carbon dioxide emissions caused by the home. The site accepts monthly installments or annual payments.