Carbon is the new guilt.
And if you don’t feel guilty about the carbon you exude, thus threatening the penguins, the polar bears, lower-lying nations, not to mention prime beachfront real estate, do-good groups will soon be around to see that you do.
In conjunction with a U.N. conference on climate change, demonstrators around the world hit the streets with placards urging, “Say no to carbon dioxide.” But try to say no without breathing because carbon dioxide is the stuff you exhale.
Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and thus a culprit in global warming, a principle side effect of which is Al Gore.
As it happens, this conference is in Bali, not the most convenient place on the planet, and the pocket-protector types who have adopted carbon as their cause quickly calculated that hauling and housing 10,000 delegates on that island city would unleash over 100,000 tons of carbon, 48,000 of it in air travel alone.
That resulted in an escalation in the race for politicians to be more carbon sensitive than thou. Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., chairman of a House committee on global warming, sprang out to an early lead.
He was invited to speak but elected not to come but address the delegates through a virtual animation of himself called an avatar. Said Markey, “Instead of offsetting the carbon footprint of my flight to Bali, I’m going to upload my avatar and I’m going to Bali with no footprint at all.”
Carbon has our politicians talking like that.
Your carbon footprint is the total amount of carbon you emit and cause to be emitted as you go about your daily business. The Web is full of programs that enable you to calculate your personal carbon footprint — in other words, how much better the planet would be if you weren’t on it.
The carbon footprint shows up in ways you might not expect. Began a recent story by the British Press Association, “The turkey and trimmings enjoyed at millions of Christmas dinner tables will have a carbon footprint equivalent to 6,000 car journeys around the world, a study has shown.”
The irrepressible funsters at the University of Manchester calculated that a Christmas dinner for eight of turkey, stuffing, roast potatoes, vegetables, bread sauce, cranberry sauce and other accompaniments would produce 44 pounds of carbon dioxide.
The life cycle of the turkey accounts for 60 percent of the total carbon and getting the cranberry sauce from North America to the British dinner table accounts for half of the transportation-related footprint. Enjoy your Christmas dinner, planet killers.
Carbon has become such a worthy cause that other worthy causes are latching onto it.
Public health activists are urging you to save your life and the planet by walking or biking a half-hour a day instead of driving. Someone calculated the reduction in driving would cut carbon-dioxide emissions by 64 million tons.
And, of course, you’d be in better shape and wouldn’t breathe so hard, cutting your personal carbon emissions as well. And while you’re at it, don’t eat meat because the whole business of producing meat accounts for 18 percent of all greenhouse-gas emissions.
One of the solutions proposed for emissions is a carbon tax. And that brings us to this bellwether news: California has become the first state to require refineries, power plants and other major sources of carbon dioxide to start reporting their annual emissions.
So you think this is only going to affect big industry? You naive little carbon emitter, you. If it’s possible to calculate your personal carbon footprint, it’s possible some do-good politician will try to tax it — in the name of saving the planet, of course.