What’s your carbon footprint?

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.

Breathe shallowly.

6 Responses to "What’s your carbon footprint?"

  1. Janice  December 13, 2007 at 7:25 am

    We had better start taking note of this – because it is a very real and looming planetary change. The root cause of this is massive over population and greed. There are too many people. Anytime there is overpopulation of a species – there is a mass die off from starvation and/or disease. It’s how things work on this planet. Taxing polluters to allow them to continue to pollute isn’t going to solve anything – and is a stupid idea, because allowing the big companies to buy their way out of cleaning up their act is not helping solve this problem. I do not believe this problem will be solved because I do not believe the majority of people are selfless enough to step outside themselves and take personal responsibility to contribute to solving the sickness we have inflicted on our habitat. And, even if each and every person on this planet was willing to take the appropriate steps (which they are not), the governments and faceless global businesses will not because it would affect their soul-less bottom line – and in the end, money and power run this planet – not the compassion and altruism found in the human soul.

    If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.
    Mark Twain

  2. JoyfulC  December 13, 2007 at 8:52 am

    What exactly is wrong with doing a little cutting back, conducting ourselves more frugally? You have to breathe, whether you’re driving down the road in a gas guzzler or a more fuel efficient model, possibly even car pooling with friends. You have to breathe, whether you set your thermostat at 65 degrees or 75 degrees this winter — and no matter how much insulating you’ve done.

    So why do they keep bombarding us with articles like this designed to convince us that it’s pointless and ridiculous to even try to conserve energy, reduce our carbon footprint a little? Because conspicuous energy consumption is a terrific profit source for some! Because they’re scared we might actually start living frugally and making responsible choices in great enough numbers to affect their bottom lines. Because if carbon choices were taxed, it probably would have an inhibiting effect on many people’s consumption, even if they don’t grasp the importance to the environment.

    And we couldn’t have that. Those poor petroleum companies have become accustomed to making obscene profits for holding us all hostage. Their best bet right now is to rake muck to keep the waters muddied. And, of course, to work against anyone trying to come up with alternative energy solutions that they don’t own the rights to and/or which wouldn’t be equally or more profitable for them.

    Hey. Whadya want?? It’s a business!

  3. Dionysis  December 13, 2007 at 8:57 am

    This lame attempt at humor is simply a whistling-past-the-graveyard effort to denigrate the most important crisis facing the planet. This member of the Ostrich Society apparently feels that spewing out this juvenile attempt at ‘humor’ at the expense of this scary situation is clever.

    Fortunately, the vast majority of people are beginning to wake up to the reality of this global crisis and are rejecting clowns like the author of this piece.

    Hey Bozo, you are not funny, but rather, somewhat pathetic.

  4. Elmo  December 13, 2007 at 9:53 am

    I don’t worry about my carbon footprint.

    However, because I’m basically a cheapskate, I don’t waste gasoline, heating oil, electricity, or propane. I get pissed at people who drive gas guzzlers because their wasteful usage drives up the price for me.

  5. jarrodlombardo  December 13, 2007 at 12:38 pm

    You should check this out Elmo:
    http://cnwmr.com/nss-folder/automotiveenergy/

    It’s surprising how overall inefficient some “green” cars are compared to some “gas guzzlers”. For instance, over the life of the vehicle, a 2005 Jeep Wrangler (13/17 MPG EPA Estimate) is 5.4 times more energy efficient than a 2005 Toyota Prius (48/45 MPG EPA Estimate) due to taking into account the energy involved in the manufacture of the vehicle, replacement of parts and fluids, and disposal of the vehicle.

    EPA information from http://www.fueleconomy.gov

    –Jarrod

  6. griff  December 13, 2007 at 11:19 am

    Wake Up People! Global warming is a natural phenomenom and people have nothing to do with it. The sun is getting warmer. Can you blame SUV’s on the same warming trend seen on Mars? The earth, across the millenia, has seen warming and cooling trends, and this is just another warming trend. Do some research yourself, instead of blindly following the propaganda spewed forth by the corporate media. They want people to accept taxation and population reduction and global governance to combat this “threat” to our existence. There has been no debate on the subject, just propaganda. Dissenting views are dismissed or ignored.

    Do I think that we do harm to the environment? Sure we do. Why don’t you ask the “leaders” of this “movement” what they are doing to fix this while they jet around the world with their holier-than-thou attitudes, while asking the average person to limit toilet paper use? This is nothing more than the elites asking the peasants to sacrifice while they live in their ivory towers and laugh at you all. Get a real cause. Global Warming is a manufactured problem, which, of course, only “responsible leadership” can cure.

    I ask all of you to research dissenting views with an open mind and a little common sense, and you’ll see the truth.

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