Sunday, January 11, 2009

My Carbon Footprint

When it comes to the global warming debate, call me skeptical. Not making a huge mess is always a good idea, but environmentalism is more political than scientific. One thing that bugs me as much as anything is that tight-fisted, miserly Republicans, like me, don't get nearly the credit we deserve. The thermostat on my water heater is as low as it will go. I turn off lights, shut down the furnace, walk to the bank and grocery store, I've never been to Kyoto, and on and on, just to save a few cents.

Wandering around the internet this morning, I found a Harvard physicist who has calculated the carbon footprint of a Google search (7 grams of CO2). This led to the Carbon Footprint Calculator. I see several problems with the calculator, which I'll get to, but apparently I generate 15.41 tonnes of CO2 a year. The American average is 20.4, which means, among other things, I can Lord it over, and act superior, towards roughly 75 % of my fellow Americans. The bad news is that we're all supposed to get down to 2 tonnes per year worldwide in order to save the planet. According to the calculator, I would have to live outside, stop driving, as well as stop eating.

Living in my little hole-in-the-wall apartment generates 3.9 tonnes of CO2 a year. This must have more to do with where I live than how I live. The overwhelming majority of electrical generation in Nevada comes from burning coal, and not the "clean" kind either. Driving my car 10,000 miles a year generates 4.27 tonnes of CO2.

I took an airplane to Las Vegas 2 years ago that produced 0.28 tonnes of CO2. But here is where I became suspicious. Had I flown 1st Class instead of economy, I would have produced 0.42 tonnes. Does sitting up in front make a difference? It's the same airplane, right? Are 1st Class passengers a bunch of tubbies or something?

It was the section called "secondary" that really gave it away. It's heavily wieghted to vegan's who grow their own vegetables. There's also a thing about not buying packaged products of any kind. OK, a lot of things have too much packaging. But, how would one go about selling crackers without putting them in a box? How about toothpaste; are we going to have to scoop it out of a bin and deposit it in our canvas bags?

There is a lot we humans do that just has to be the way it is. Add to that, we each do the same things in different ways. I don't see a computer program that could possibly figure in all the human idiosyncracies, much less predict the weather.

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