CT: A carbon footprint is defined as the total amount of greenhouse gases produced to directly and indirectly support human activities, usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).
In other words, when you drive a car, the engine burns fuel, which creates a certain amount of CO2, depending on its fuel consumption and the driving distance. (CO2 is the chemical symbol for carbon dioxide). When you heat your house with oil, gas or coal, then you also generate CO2. Even if you heat your house with electricity, the generation of the electrical power may also have emitted a certain amount of CO2. When you buy food and goods, the production of the food and goods also emitted some quantities of CO2.
Your carbon footprint is the sum of all emissions of CO2 (carbon dioxide), which were induced by your activities in a given time frame. Usually a carbon footprint is calculated for the time period of a year.
S: http://timeforchange.org/what-is-a-carbon-footprint-definition (last access: 20 December 2014)
N: 1. carbon (n): non-metallic element, 1789, coined 1787 in French by Lavoisier as charbone, from Latin carbonem (nominative carbo) “a coal, glowing coal; charcoal,” from PIE root ker- (4) “heat, fire, to burn”).
footprint (n): 1550s, from foot (n.) + print (n.). Related: Footprints. Old English had fotspor, fotswæð.
Carbon footprint was in use by 2001.
2. A representation of the effect human activities have on the climate in terms of the total amount of greenhouse gases produced (measured in units of carbon dioxide).
3. A total carbon footprint/emission quantification would include energy-related emissions from human activities – that is, from heat, light, power and refrigeration and all transport-related emissions from cars, freight and distribution, etc.
S: 1. OED – http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=carbon+footprint&searchmode=none; http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=footprint&searchmode=none (last access: 20 December 2014). 2 & 3. TERMIUM PLUS (last access: 20 December 2014).
SYN: 1. carbon dioxide footprint. 2. carbon dioxide budget, carbon dioxide imprint, carbon imprint, carbon budget. 3. CO2 footprint.
S: 1. GDT (last access: 20 December 2014); TERMIUM PLUS (last access: 20 December 2014). 2. TERMIUM PLUS (last access: 20 December 2014).