The Carnivalesque Rebellion Issue

The Per Capita Principle

Lets go viral with this idea.
Photo illustration by Morgan Slade and Alex Gross
Photo illustration by Morgan Slade and Alex Gross

2.8 Tons

In a fair world this number represents your own annual C02 emission limit – a limit necessary to maintain a hospitable climate on this planet. Right now developed nations are a long way off the mark. The average North American is responsible for about 20 tons of C02 emissions per year – seven times the per person limit.

The idea that we should share global carbon emissions is called the “per capita principle.” At its heart is the notion that every person living on the planet equally shares the right to emit greenhouse gases. If all seven billion of us share equal carbon emission rights, then climatologists estimate that 2.8 tons of C02 is the limit that each person can emit if we are to have a good chance at keeping the planet’s mean annual temperature from increasing by more than two degrees Celsius (which in 2009 many G8 leaders, Obama included, agreed we must do).

What will be the result if we fail to achieve this goal over the next nine years? Extinction, probably. According to leading climatologist Hans Joachim Schellnhuber of Germany, if we fail to reduce our per person carbon emissions to 2.8 tons by 2020, the human species stands little chance of survival.

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66 comments on the article “The Per Capita Principle”

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Anonymous

I agree that C02 emissions need to be reduced. I think the key idea, though, is that in order for per capita emissions to decrease, overall emissions need to decrease. And, most of these emissions are caused by corporations. 20 tons per person on average does not mean each person is literally producing 20 tons. Corporations cause more than their fair share. So, my suggestion is to require them to lower their contributions to this global disaster. I will do what I can, but it will not be enough unless the ruling classes are required to quell the nasty furnaces burning in their factories.

Anonymous

I agree that C02 emissions need to be reduced. I think the key idea, though, is that in order for per capita emissions to decrease, overall emissions need to decrease. And, most of these emissions are caused by corporations. 20 tons per person on average does not mean each person is literally producing 20 tons. Corporations cause more than their fair share. So, my suggestion is to require them to lower their contributions to this global disaster. I will do what I can, but it will not be enough unless the ruling classes are required to quell the nasty furnaces burning in their factories.

Anonymous

What if factories had to pay very high taxes for their emissions? Right now they're getting away with it because it's free

Anonymous

What if factories had to pay very high taxes for their emissions? Right now they're getting away with it because it's free

Anonymous

More intensives for green energy building, more intensives for US PRODUCED green energy. Everything else should follow, any other solution wouldn't be realistic.

Anonymous

More intensives for green energy building, more intensives for US PRODUCED green energy. Everything else should follow, any other solution wouldn't be realistic.

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