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Reducing your carbon footprint makes you miserable


This is an extract from a New York Times Blog piece on personal carbon footprints.

The piece started off with comment on the hypocrisy of celebrities who preach on the environment but use private jets and SUVs.

It may make us think slightly differently on this issue:-

But before anyone gets too hopeful about lowering Americans’ greenhouse emissions, consider some figures from Ron Bailey at Reason. Using the calculator at Carbon Footprint, he found that he and his wife have a typical American footprint of about 20 tons of carbon dioxide apiece per year (with their chief sin being 15 tons from air travel). Then he envisioned a few lifestyle changes:

So in a quest to lower my impact on the environment, I calculated our carbon footprint if we cut our use of electricity and natural gas in half, switched our two cars for a single Toyota Prius and reduced our annual mileage by half, tripled our train travel, and never took an airplane. Furthermore, what if we became vegetarians, ate only local organic food in season, bought only second-hand clothes, furniture and appliances, never went to movies, bars or restaurants, and recycled or composted all our waste? Even then our combined carbon footprint would be 7.3 tons per year, but that would get us just below the world average of 4 tons per capita annually.

Somehow, I don’t think Brangelina — or many other people — are ready for this lifestyle.

Reality intrudes. This suggests that much of the benefit will come when industry gets in behind this issue.

Therefore, in a NZ context we need to think very seriously about what it is we want to achieve and whether in fact it will actually amount to a measurable improvement or benefit at all.

SO we wear a green hairshirt and achieve nothing, and feel unhappy to boot as we get no pleasures out of life.

  1. 13/05/2008 01:48

    Check out this US Carbon Footprint Map, an interactive United States Carbon Footprint Map, illustrating Greenest States to Cities. This site has all sorts of stats on individual State & City energy consumptions, demographics and much more down to your local US City level…


  2. 12/05/2008 23:36

    I found a similar thing recently in checking out my own footprint, that it was pretty much impossible to hit the one-planet living mark I’d ideally like to achieve. It’s going to take government initiative and industry regulation on a massive scale before we get anything more than fashionable tokenism.


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