Hackathon, Climate and my CO2 Footprint

Last week, I attended an interesting and rather sobering presentation on sustainability by Niko Paech entitled Befreiung vom Überfluss – liberation from excessive abundance – the German title is shorter and sounds better, for a change.

That prompted me to have a look at my own CO2 footprint.

This just happened to coincide more or less with the People's Climate March taking place simultaneously all around the world, including ten thousand participands in Berlin, Geneva and Zurich.

Before getting to that, let me mention our own busy ADN weekend activities taking place at the same time, holding the worldwide Autodesk Exchange AppStore Hackathon.

At least this was a virtual event, avoiding the CO2 emissions caused by most modern forms of fast travel. More on the sobering aspects of that below...

Autodesk Exchange AppStore Hackathon

We held the Autodesk Exchange AppStore Hackathon this weekend.

The entire ADN DevTech teacm was online round the clock, chatting, supporting, presenting and hacking together with participants from all around the world.

Here are my previous descriptions of this with all the details:

Here are direct links to the agenda and home.

We also held an own internal contest at the same time, the first ever DevTech hackathon challenge.

I am looking forward to hearing more about the results from that.

My Personal and Professional CO2 Footprint

I am rather shocked, I must say.

I was previously not aware of the tremendous effect of air travel on my personal CO2 footprint.

I checked it using an online calculator. I started out by searching the Internet for co2 footprint calculator and ended up using the one provided by Carbon Footprint Ltd.

I do not use much energy myself for most things. I do share a car with a friend, which obviously causes more emissions than travelling by bicycle, train and bus as I would otherwise. I heat my house with wood, archaically. Here is my very rough personal summary, excluding airline travel, in metric tons of CO2:

This adds up to 2.26 metric tons of CO2, which is actually pretty OK.

The target footrint per human being to reduce the impact on the climate lies somewhere between two and three tons per person per year, so I am actually already within that range – discounting airline travel.

The average Swiss footprint today is over five tons, and the average developed nation one over ten.

How could I reduce this?

I checked what I could possibly do to reduce this.

I already am vegetarian, so the only possible reduction food-style-wise would be switching to a vegan diet.

Well, to my surprise, switching from vegetarian to vegan food would save 0.3 tons.

Another surprising possible improvement offered by this particular calculator consists in switching from using a 'standard range of financial services' to not even having a bank account; that would save 0.4 tons.

Obviously, not travelling at all by car would save 0.45 tons.

As said, all of that seems quite OK to me.

Now comes the bad part, though.

Air Travel

I travelled by air privately a couple of times, and much more for business.

One private flight was a return trip from Zurich to Stockholm. The CO2 footprint for that flight alone is 0.25 metric tons.

I also flew privately one-way from Tenerifa to Basel (0.52) and return to Marrakesh (0.43).

Those three flights together cause 1.2 tons, about half the rest of my entire yearly budget.

The really bad part for me is business travel, though.

I already travelled to Toronto and New York for business purposes, and Las Vegas and the DevDays tours are coming up later this year. Together, they will cause way over five tons of CO2 emission, putting me way above the Swiss average, and at three to four times the long-term world-wide target.

The point is that every SUV-driving carnivore that stays at home is a lot greener than the bicycle-riding vegan flying to a different continent for the family vacation.

Easy to fix, though: don't fly.

Worldwide Air Traffic

By the way, here is a one-minute video giving an impression of the worldwide air traffic during a 24-hour period back in 2008:

Back then, every day, about 93000 planes took off from about 9000 airports, with between 8000 and 13000 simultaneous flights at all times.

Yay for the virtual Hackathon, and I need to give my future business travel a serious think.