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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friends of Aris...

More linear thinking from the neutered left. Is our only option to use economics to keep the environment from going off the deep end? Wouldn't it be much easier to create an infrastructure that doesn't create Co2 emissions in the first place? Come on people lets use our brains, we can come up with better solutions than "carbon taxes".

friends of Aris...

More linear thinking from the neutered left. Is our only option to use economics to keep the environment from going off the deep end? Wouldn't it be much easier to create an infrastructure that doesn't create Co2 emissions in the first place? Come on people lets use our brains, we can come up with better solutions than "carbon taxes".

friends of Aris...

I think you missed the point the "left" is more of an abstraction, an irrelevant word that is a means of referring the ideological position of a group of people who promote this idea. Of course so many narratives can be formed from just attaching the label of "left" that it does more harm than good, but still this is a waste of time to discuss.
So I make a call for a better solution to a carbon tax and this somehow jaded?

friends of Aris...

I think you missed the point the "left" is more of an abstraction, an irrelevant word that is a means of referring the ideological position of a group of people who promote this idea. Of course so many narratives can be formed from just attaching the label of "left" that it does more harm than good, but still this is a waste of time to discuss.
So I make a call for a better solution to a carbon tax and this somehow jaded?

Anonymous

When I read this article I felt my usual sense of doom and frustration and I can understand why some comments are super negative. It’s hard to respond to an article meant to stimulate action but offering no plan.

Of course I must reduce my carbon emissions. Far be it for me to doom humanity through my over consumption. The author says I am using 20 tons of carbon per year, personally and I must reduce to 2.8 tons. The author would be better advised to show me a means to calculate how I am doing now so I can set up a series of steps that will allow me to achieve this reduction.

If, when you went to university, someone told you that you must achieve all your educational goals within 4 years and here is the end result you have to attain; but gave you no class structures, no curriculum and no plan for achieving the goal, would you attend that university? Of course not!

Let’s take our fear and use it to educate ourselves by investigating our options, planning steps that reduce our personal emissions and implementing our plans. Show me an article explaining how someone has done that. I’d find that inspiring. I’d learn new ways to achieve my goal.

Anonymous

When I read this article I felt my usual sense of doom and frustration and I can understand why some comments are super negative. It’s hard to respond to an article meant to stimulate action but offering no plan.

Of course I must reduce my carbon emissions. Far be it for me to doom humanity through my over consumption. The author says I am using 20 tons of carbon per year, personally and I must reduce to 2.8 tons. The author would be better advised to show me a means to calculate how I am doing now so I can set up a series of steps that will allow me to achieve this reduction.

If, when you went to university, someone told you that you must achieve all your educational goals within 4 years and here is the end result you have to attain; but gave you no class structures, no curriculum and no plan for achieving the goal, would you attend that university? Of course not!

Let’s take our fear and use it to educate ourselves by investigating our options, planning steps that reduce our personal emissions and implementing our plans. Show me an article explaining how someone has done that. I’d find that inspiring. I’d learn new ways to achieve my goal.

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