Reducing your Carbon footprint

I nicked this from   Luis B. Aramburu  (Twitter: @luisbaram)


He gives suggestions at reducing your carbon footprint, but does he go far enough?


But how many Greens will go as far as this

It seems some people believe that moving to a low carbon economy is something easy that just requires “political will,” and that the way forward is to pressure politicians with tumultuous “climate marches.”

Well, it is not that easy, not even close.

To get an idea of the barriers to a low carbon economy, let’s focus at the personal level. Here are some things an individual can do to drastically reduce her / his carbon emissions. Bear in mind that reducing the carbon emissions of humanity would literally be many orders of magnitude more difficult than this.

1. Eliminate air travel. Period. No looking back. Vacations should be relatively local. If you are used to travelling for business, then use video-conference to be in touch with your customers. Sure, it won’t be as effective as face to face interactions, but  it is one of the prices to be paid for a lower carbon footprint.
2. Have less children or none at all. Off the bat, a new person that lives 65 years and produces the current average annual CO2 emissions (4.5 tons) would add almost 300 tons to the atmosphere in her lifetime. One billion persons would add 300 Gigatons, and this is considering the average emissions stay at today’s value.
3. Eat less meat.
4. Buy much less stuff.
5. Adjust the thermostat in your A/C: make a point to be colder in winter and warmer in summer (without actually freezing or dehydrating).
6. Use your car less, much less or make without it altogether.
7. Try to enjoy cold showers, or at least cool showers.
8. Turn off every light / device as soon as you are through using it.
9. Assimilate (properly vetted) GMOs. We need to produce more food with less land/energy input.
10. In summary, embrace a lower standard of living for you and your family.

However, when things are distilled at the personal level, many “greens” rebel. They are not willing to participate in the game anymore. They want to just join in two or three “climate marches,” pressure their university to “divest” from fossil fuels, glue a bumper sticker in their car with the “#GoSolar” message and re-tweet some Greenpeace thoughts.

Well, that will never work.

In truth, very few people will downgrade the standard of living of themselves and their children to “save” their eventual great-grandchildren. This is just human nature. Thus, bar a black swan (or two), the best way to reduce emissions (in addition to decreasing population) is technology.

Technology can help in two ways:

1. Do more with less (e.g., an LED light bulb produces many more lumens per watt than an equivalent incandescent lamp).
2. New massive amounts of low carbon energy. Current nuclear and renewables are at the most a stopgap. We need much better nuclear (fission and fusion) and other types of energy in the near future.

A happy, high energy future (with much less reliance on fossil fuels) will only materialize via technology.

Feel free to add to the conversation in Twitter: @luisbaram

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