After posting about corporate environmentalism, it occurred to me that I should be practising what I preach. Even writers generate a carbon footprint, but I have never taken the time to analyse how much CO2 I spew out into the atmosphere.
When my eco-thriller, The Human Race, was published, I traded in my Grand Jeep Cherokee 4.7L V8 engine for a Brabus (a Smart car). I hasten to add that this had nothing to do with the publishing advance I secured for the book! Instead, it was a conscious decision. If you are a regular reader of A Rush of Green, you will know that after researching the environment inside and out for The Human Race, I was struck by green guilt and became a reluctant environmentalist. My Smart car was a first step in the right direction: my miles per gallon soared, from a measly 16 on a good day, to more than 50. Even so, at the rate of 200 miles per month the carbon emissions from my tiny car still amount to half a tonne of emissions per year.
Driving accounts for a mere fraction of my daily emissions, so I decided to work out how much impact my business – writing – has had on the environment. As a writer, I was unsure how to separate my downtime from my writing time and eventually decided not to bother. I treated them as one and the same. After all, the business is me. I am the production engine as it were, so everything I consume has one output: books.
Here is a breakdown of my household’s energy consumption:
Using www.carbon-offsets.com I calculated that, based on those figures, our family produces nearly 14.89 tonnes in one year. Because I write at home, I am the heaviest user in my family of four. I am here all day, using light, power for my laptop, gas for warmth, cooking and the occasional shower! Given my heavy usage, I have calculated that I am responsible for 40 per cent of our household emissions
Writing the sequel has taken nearly two years. If I consume 40 per cent of the household total, that puts my carbon emissions at a shocking 11.91 tonnes.
And that’s not all. The book research that I have undertaken outside the home has also produced a significant carbon footprint. Since a large portion of the sequel is set in Washington DC, I invested in a research trip. Including return journeys and accommodation costs, I “spent” an additional 1.21 tonnes.
So while writing an eco-thriller, I have produced approximately 13.62 tonnes of CO2. It doesn’t look good on paper, does it?
It gets worse. I haven’t included my car’s output, and I haven’t factored in the carbon cost of publication. As for the latter, however, rest assured that after my recent evaluation of paper books v. electronic books, the sequel to The Human Race will be heavily promoted on Kindle and other e-readers!
As for what happened next… Find out in tomorrow’s post!