"Green IT": Leaving a Smaller Carbon Footprint

Though the Bush administration has not made preventing global warming a priority, studies show that massive damage will be inflicted on the planet if ozone depletion is not halted. The U.S. Global Research Program recently reported that if emissions of greenhouse gases do not decrease, average temperatures in the United States will rise at least 5 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit in the next century, causing droughts, floods, the disappearance of fragile species and the destruction of ecosystems.

To publicize the importance of reducing emissions of ozone-depleting gases, the World Resources Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit think tank, has launched www.safeclimate.net, a website devoted to helping individuals and organizations calculate and reduce their output of carbon dioxide.

"We don’t have to wait for our government to lead," says Jonathan Lash, president of the institute. "SafeClimate.net provides an opportunity for concerned citizens and organizations to do their part and demonstrate concern on this issue."

SafeClimate.net’s main tool is a calculator that measures your "carbon footprint," or the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by your activities or those of your business. Here’s how it works: The calculator compares the amount of electricity, natural gas and heating oil a company uses to the amount of office space used per square foot and the number of car or air miles traveled by employees each month. Individuals can enter the same information and get a personal footprint calculation.

The site then suggests ways to reduce the carbon dioxide footprint, such as conserving energy, cutting back on travel and paper consumption, and eating more organic foods. The site contains links to sellers of energy-efficient lightbulbs and other appliances that can help.

"Every step toward carbon reduction is a meaningful one in reducing the threat of global warming," Lash says.

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