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Lately I have taken an interest in understanding exactly what it is that the climate scientists are telling us we need to do to stop the globe from warming any more than is already going to happen from our past emissions. The climate models seem to indicate that “we” need to reduce our CO2 emissions by roughly 80% per person per year by the time we get to 2050. One way to think about how serious a cutback that is would be to consider how it could be done absent any changes to current technology (unlikely I know) or any “solutions” to the warming problem (such as inventing a CO2 scrubber like they have on the space shuttle).

We know that a typical person emits 26 tons of CO2 per year. If you own a car, you emit something around 5.5 tons of CO2 per year from your driving. Thus, your driving accounts for 21% of your carbon emissions. Put another way, living your life without a car still causes you to emit roughly 21 tons of CO2 per year.

To put the magnitude of your emissions reduction requirement in perspective: if you are going to reduce your carbon emissions by 80%, it basically means that you must eliminate doing every single thing in your life, including eating, building a home, working on your computer, playing hockey, etc. except driving your car. So, you basically need to stop living, but that’s cool, we can have a robot drive your car around on your behalf and park it on your gravesite and that will still keep us within our emissions reductions targets. In other words, if we gave up driving entirely, we would still need to reduce our emissions by 75% below those new levels of emissions – and that is without having a car.

I am not saying the science is wrong here, what I am saying is that reducing emissions by 80% requires a little more than turning the heat down in winter, or not running the faucet while brushing your teeth, or even growing your own food. Have a lovely day.

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