“Fly from New York to California and back and you will generate as much greenhouse gas emissions as you will by driving your Prius all year.”
Oh my god… I’m reading this 35,000 feet in the air en route from New York to California, a trip I will make again this month. Next month I will go all the way to India.
We have a window of opportunity to do something about all this as the new Democratic majority floats bills that take tiny bites out of a gigantic problem. But what is really required? Back in November, I recommended the new book Heat: How to Stop the Planet From Burning
by George Monbiot. Recently, David Morris made a much more compelling argument for the urgency of reading the book in his AlterNet column.
“By claiming we can solve the problem of climate change painlessly, environmentalists confuse us. They offer stark and rigorous presentations terrifying us about the near-term, dire consequences of global warming. And then they offer generalized, almost blithe assurances about how we can avoid these dire consequences without great sacrifice. We are horrified and soothed at the same time. It's a dangerous strategy. Many who focus on the catastrophic present-day images of An Inconvenient Truth believe we have gone beyond the point of no return, which leads to cynicism and passivity. Those who are spurred to action believe that buying a hybrid car or taking an eco-vacation will address the problem…
“Monbiot argues for a global carbon emissions cap allocated on a per capita basis. Since all of humanity shares the biosphere, which has only a limited absorptive and cleansing capacity and all humans are created equal, then each should have equal use of that capacity…
“The implications of biospheric equity are so profound and so disturbing, that it is understandable why American environmentalists shy away from discussing the issue. Currently, global carbon emissions are about 7 billion tons, roughly, 1 ton per person. But the average American generates, directly and indirectly, some 10 tons per capita. Thus, to save the planet and cleanse our resource sins, Americans must go far beyond freezing greenhouse gas emissions. As a nation, we must reduce them by more than 90 percent, taking into account the sharp reductions in existing global emissions necessary to stabilize the world's climate.”
Unfortunately, this book has yet to be published in the U.S. (It looks like it’s coming this summer.) But you can get it from the Canadian publisher here. So please buy a copy of Heat today! Then decide what you’re willing to do. I bet once you read it you’ll be willing to do more than you thought.