Join 3,424 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Class Worrier
July 7, 2008 1:33 PM   Subscribe

Bill Gates - 10,000,000; Vegetarian student - 300. Carbon Footprint of different lifestyles.

Scores for "global warming potential" from study at MIT. link to PDF. Data from 1997. If you like to have your information further digested for you, there's this.

from the MIT Study:
"even the most modest life styles have impacts much larger that[sic] the world average."
"due to the combined effects of subsidies and rebound, the magnitude of possible reductions in energy use for people in the United States by voluntary changes in spending patterns appears limited."

so that's one vote for a carbon tax, methinks.

more on the rabbit hole that is Carbon Footprint.
Also, it's 2013. Do you know where your Polar Ice cap is?
posted by ilovemytoaster (49 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
I blame your toaster.
posted by brain_drain at 1:37 PM on July 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm glad they through Oprah in there too. I always hated her for telling her viewers ways they could be more "green" on her show. What a hypocrite!
posted by gagglezoomer at 1:39 PM on July 7, 2008


The winters will be nicer, and in the summer, we can commute to work on sailboats. What's not to like?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:40 PM on July 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Are you saying we should go to war with foreign carbon emissions?
posted by TwelveTwo at 1:45 PM on July 7, 2008


It is becoming more and more clear that these figures are useless without context, something that never seems to accompany them.
posted by setanor at 1:45 PM on July 7, 2008


Godzilla - 2,000,000,000,000
posted by jonmc at 1:47 PM on July 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


Cannabalistic students, on the other hand (and foot, and rib), eventually have a negative carbon footprint.
posted by orthogonality at 1:52 PM on July 7, 2008 [7 favorites]


I think it's only right and proper that we emphasis the culpability and indeed lay the blame squarely at the feet of the lifestyles of ordinary individuals who patently have pushed for unsustainable ways of life, rather that governments and corporations who were entirely powerless to avoid our present situation.
posted by Abiezer at 1:52 PM on July 7, 2008 [9 favorites]


Cannabalistic students, on the other hand (and foot, and rib), eventually have a negative carbon footprint.

It's really our only hope for a sustainable future.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:54 PM on July 7, 2008


Godzilla - 2,000,000,000,000

Wait wait wait. Are you saying that in addition to wrecking cities, repeatedly tearing down power lines, and generally destroying all monsters, Godzilla also produces deadly carbon dioxide gas? Foul sea creature! He must be eliminated.
posted by tracert at 1:56 PM on July 7, 2008


I think they wrote the headline first, and then designed the study around it.
posted by smackfu at 1:57 PM on July 7, 2008


setanor - it's a study. the value generated in the study is the context of the other observations (so you could repeat the study with similar results, for a different data year and even track results year over year).

or, the context is 'oprah versus student'. 'soccer mom versus monk,' if you like to think of it in conflict terms.
posted by ilovemytoaster at 2:00 PM on July 7, 2008


Wait wait wait. Are you saying that in addition to wrecking cities, repeatedly tearing down power lines, and generally destroying all monsters, Godzilla also produces deadly carbon dioxide gas?

Well, after eating Mexico City, Texas, and Tijuana, he released a lot of methane.
posted by jonmc at 2:00 PM on July 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I wonder how much inadvertently opening a PDF -- without warning -- increased my carbon footprint?
posted by nitsuj at 2:02 PM on July 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Seems obvious to me... those coma patients are sucking up our resources, and they're not producing a damn thing.
posted by Huck500 at 2:03 PM on July 7, 2008


"I travel so much now, and every time I have the itch to be in nature, it’s $500, $600 to get out of town for the weekend. I travel at the drop of a hat. If I have a bad day, I just literally go on Expedia. Or I’ll be invited to a party in San Francisco and think, What am I saving my money for anyway? We’re all going to die from global warming. And I just book it."

From Toronto Life's (nauseating) "Money Issue."
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:05 PM on July 7, 2008


ilovemytoaster-

i suppose i do understand that context, but it doesn't seem very useful. why not, for example, take into account how much bill gates' social investments have mitigated his footprint, or how little our vegetarian student has been able to contribute to anything on accord of his whinnying addiction to local protest culture.
posted by setanor at 2:12 PM on July 7, 2008 [5 favorites]


Nauseating indeed. That was pretty awful to read.
posted by HighTechUnderpants at 2:15 PM on July 7, 2008


I bet Al Gore has an even higher score than Bill Gates. (Gates doesn't travel as much.)
posted by Class Goat at 2:18 PM on July 7, 2008


jesus, where did they find such sociopaths? i thought i left that behind in LA.
posted by klanawa at 2:23 PM on July 7, 2008


referring to card cheat's link, of course...
posted by klanawa at 2:24 PM on July 7, 2008


I bet Al Gore has an even higher score than Bill Gates.

Only because of Al's second career in Modern Interpretive Dance.
posted by jonmc at 2:28 PM on July 7, 2008


(slight derail - that Toronto Life article is so skewed to the rich that it is nauseating. 250k for a couple as "comfortable" in Toronto? That's not comfortable - that's in the top few percentile for the nation - as they point out to each other in the article, but then go on to talk about that as if it's normal. Median household income is more like $60,000 - found by googling "median income Toronto", which the Toronto Life reporter was apparently incapable of doing. How about a money issue about how the VAST MAJORITY of people live?

Interestingly, "In Toronto, the lowest 10% had an average of $9,600 while those in the highest 10% had an average of $261,000. The average income of the top 10% was higher in Toronto than in any other city in the country".)
posted by jb at 2:36 PM on July 7, 2008


Another slight derail - that Toronto Life article is so skewed to the rich that it is nauseating. Back when I was attempting to make a go of it as a freelance writer, I read TL regularly because I figured - being a T.O. resident and all - they'd be one of the best mags for me to make pitches to. But by the time I made it through to the end of each smug, entitled, fatuous issue I was typically too pissed off to come up with any ideas.

Their recent "Baby Wars" feature was particularly sick-making; by the end of the issue (which I read in a doctor's office) I hated everyone on both sides of the issue.
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:51 PM on July 7, 2008


Previous comment flagged for excessive use of the word "issue". Now you know why I never made it as a writer.
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:53 PM on July 7, 2008


But if you divide carbon emissions by disposable income, you'll see that Bill Gates is much less of an energy hog per dollar earned than your average shmoe -- or coma patient.

Take that, Buddhist monks!
posted by sour cream at 3:05 PM on July 7, 2008


Jesus, I just want to beat the people in the Toronto Life article so bad. And I'm not generally a violent person.
posted by maxwelton at 3:08 PM on July 7, 2008


What's not to like?

The heat! My god, the heat!
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 3:09 PM on July 7, 2008


Bill Gates - 10,000,000; Vegetarian student - 300.

OK, so what's the score for the following: "Vegetarian student using dorm room hot plate to heat up organic vegan ramen noodles purchased at Whole Foods -- reached via 2-stroke, oil-burning Vespa -- while simultaneously surfing via 24-hour broadband access provided by parentally funded university and watching episodes of Naruto on the Cartoon Network at 2 a.m."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:35 PM on July 7, 2008


tracert writes "Wait wait wait. Are you saying that in addition to wrecking cities, repeatedly tearing down power lines, and generally destroying all monsters, Godzilla also produces deadly carbon dioxide gas? Foul sea creature! He must be eliminated."

No, no, no. See, Godzilla already battled that monster, Hedorah, or Smog Monster. Here's an historical account. Highly recommended.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:39 PM on July 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I was never CEO material and never will be, but I'm happy not to be a soccer mom.

Eventually, we'll probably adopt The Matrix solution: put everyone under (thus in actuality occupying the carbon footprint of coma patients) while they undergo immersion in a Virtual Earth in which everyone can lead an American lifestyle without worrying about where the extra four planets are coming from.
posted by bad grammar at 4:40 PM on July 7, 2008


Bill Gates : average American :: average American : most of the rest of the world.
posted by Tehanu at 4:53 PM on July 7, 2008


You know, this is precisely the kind of analysis that makes me think, "Well, I'm a 42-year-old smoker with no kids and none of this means shit to me because I'll be dead in 20 years so fuck this planet and all you people on it!" and toss a cigarette butt out the window of my Prius.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:53 PM on July 7, 2008


Hey, speaking of the ultra-wealthy, it seems that they're now earning 16% of GDP in the USA, double the chunk they got in 1980.

Seems pretty wild that such a tiny minority of people should take such a large part of the economy.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:58 PM on July 7, 2008


The Card Cheat, that's why I say I do not have "issues", I have "lifetime subscriptions".
posted by wendell at 6:25 PM on July 7, 2008


This obsession over carbon is getting out of hand.
posted by nightchrome at 6:34 PM on July 7, 2008


I stopped reading at the typo in the abstract.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 7:08 PM on July 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Cannabalistic students, on the other hand

Bill's probably a little gamey.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:42 PM on July 7, 2008


Seems pretty wild that such a tiny minority of people should take such a large part of the economy.

It seems pretty wild that Microsoft's market cap is bigger than the combined market cap of the top five or so defense companies. Maybe they are creating an enormous amount of value?
posted by b1tr0t at 9:03 PM on July 7, 2008


Is it snarky to point out that the vegetarian student is at a different life phase? More likely than not he|she will be supporting an SUV-driving soccer mom|dad after aging a bit and selling out.
posted by rr at 9:06 PM on July 7, 2008


Don't forget that Mr. Gates is actively trying to stamp out disease in the third world. That can't be good for his carbon footprint. (all those extra mouthes to feed)
posted by b1tr0t at 9:09 PM on July 7, 2008


Quite frankly, stamping out disease is only going to result in mass starvation.

What this world really needs is free birth control worldwide, if not mass sterilization.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:43 PM on July 7, 2008


...if not mass sterilization.

I was going to pay some bills, but now I'm kind of hoping the popcorn can come out.

although popping it will raise my carbon footprint
posted by davejay at 10:54 PM on July 7, 2008


Eh? You think what I said was somehow controversial? Go do some reading about mass starvation in China. They lost 30 million people during the great famine, and have lost tens of millions to starvation in recent years.

Which why they instituted the one-child policy. It might not be mass sterilization as such, but certainly the next closest thing.

The UN is estimating 1.5 billion people are going to face starvation in the near future.

Wiping out disease is only going to shift deaths from one cause to another. Instead of dying from malaria or HIV, the world's poor will drop dead of starvation.

Mass starvation occurs because too many people live in places that simply can not support mass populations. Either the population is reduced through starvation, or people need to quit having children in those areas. It sucks, but it's reality.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:00 AM on July 8, 2008


Also, you really should go pay your bills. Have some guilt-free popcorn while you're at it: I didn't make any tonight, so that should offset things.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:02 AM on July 8, 2008


I don't care about my carbon footprint. I care about your carbon footprint. Because I'm pretty sure you're bad for the environment.
posted by Eideteker at 5:12 AM on July 8, 2008


Current starvation is not about resources -- nor was China's starvation during the Great Leap Forward. At the same time as the Great Leap Forward, India faced the same severe drought, but didn't have the same level of disaster. It's about the use and distribution of resources.
posted by jb at 9:04 AM on July 8, 2008


See Amartya Sen. Famines occur because people don't have money to buy food, not because there isn't enough food. Michael Massing, Does Democracy Avert Famine?
posted by russilwvong at 11:40 AM on July 8, 2008


Of course it's about distribution of resources. It has always been about distribution of resources. We (humanity) have never distributed resources well enough and I doubt we ever will.

Certainly curing diseases without also solving the resource distribution problem is simply going to result in people dying of starvation instead of dying of diseases.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:46 PM on July 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


« Older Free Government...  |  "Nobody in the antipoverty com... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments