Carbon footprint – unrealistic expectations…

The Guardian has a calculator to work out your personal carbon footprint. I don’t use public transport, so that figure represents taxis. My CF is 9 tonnes of CO2 equivalent, which is pretty good, but bear in mind I don’t get out much*. And according to the chart, the average spend per person for hotels, pubs and restaurants is a pathetic £7. That seems completely unrealistic – I just don’t believe it – we’re being asked to believe that the vast majority of the population NEVER has a drink or a meal outside their own home. If that’s true, they must be dull buggers.

*I often get lifts to places like the supermarket, but as the driver is going there anyway, I haven’t factored that in.

The 2050 target of a reduction, for the UK, from the average of 15.4 tonnes to 3.1 tonnes is ludicrous. My impact on the environment is minimal, as I’m mostly housebound, don’t have a car, eat little – my only extravagance is going to the pub, by taxi, twice a week. The only way my CF could be reduced by two-thirds is if I was dead. OK – I will be by then, but that’s not the point. They are expecting normal people, living normal lives and eating a normal diet, to do that. I don’t believe it can be done.

And that chart has a fixed amount of 2.63 tonnes factored in for buildings (whatever that means), education and defence. And for “etc” whatever the hell that is. But I have no kids, so we can delete education for a start, which will take me below 9.

Look at the figures for China (5 tonnes) and Bangladesh (1 tonne – which seems a tad optimistic), both primarily peasant, agrarian, economies (true, some areas of China are heavily industrialised, but most of it isn’t). So is that what they’re saying? That the UK has to reduce itself to a point between the economies of Bangladesh and China? That we should live like peasants? Has everyone to become a vegetarian or vegan, to go to bed and get up with the sun, to grow all their own food and never go anywhere? And not heat their home or own a car? It’s true things have to change, but targets have to be realistic, and I don’t believe the lifestyle that goes with such a reduction would  be acceptable to anyone, even at the cost of the planet’s viability. Not while America is generating CO2 equivalents with total lack of concern.

But what of the average Americans, with an average CF of 28 tonnes per person? That’s where the focus needs to be, not on reducing the UK – and probably other countries too, incidentally – to a peasant economy (OK, if you don’t agree, tell me how else it can be done). And that’s an average American – in California, where people would drive to get to their car if they could, the figure is probably far higher, but for a New Yorker, where driving is purgatorial, especially in Manhattan, it will be a lot lower. Somewhere in small-town America, you might find the average.

I don’t know what the solution to America is, but one certainly has to be found, before the buggers trash the planet beyond all hope of redemption.

And before I get the usual climate change deniers saying changes like this have happened again and again throughout history, let me say that I’m fully aware of that. The MASSIVE difference – directly caused by human activity – is the time-scale. Climate-related events that in past epochs took centuries, or even millennia, to work their way through, are now happening in mere decades. Years, in some cases, ffs! So please, do NOT feed me any bullshit.

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