Carbon Footprints: Good, Bad, and Ugly

Australians are supposed to feel guilty because some bureaucrat in the climate industry has calculated that we have a very high per capita “carbon footprint”.

By “carbon footprint”, they mean the amount of carbon dioxide gas produced by whatever we do.  Every human activity contributes to our carbon footprint -- even just lying on the beach breathing gently produces carbon dioxide.

Producing carbon dioxide is not bad -- it an essential gas in the cycle of life, and beneficial for all life. There is no proof whatsoever that human emissions cause dangerous global warming.

Moreover, it is not per capita emissions that could affect the climate -- it is total emissions, and on that measure Australia’s small contribution is largely irrelevant. This is just another PR weapon in the extreme green alarmist arsenal.

Even if carbon footprints were important, not all footprints are environmentally equal -- some are good, some are bad and some are just plain ugly.

“Good” carbon footprints are the result of producing unsubsidised things for the benefit of others. An example is a grazier in outback Australia whose family lives frugally and works hard but has a high carbon footprint producing wool, mutton and beef from sustainable native grasslands and may use quad bikes, diesel pumps, electricity, tractors, trucks, trains, planes and ships to supply distant consumers. Many productive Australians with good carbon footprints produce food and fibres, seafood and timber, minerals and energy for grateful consumers all over the world. Activities like this create a large “per capita carbon footprint” for Australia. That so few people can produce so much is an achievement to be proud of.

A “bad” carbon footprint is produced when government subsidies, grants, hand-outs, tax breaks or mandates keep unproductive or unsustainable activities alive, leaving their footprint, but producing little useful in return. The prime examples are subsidised green energy and the government climate industry, but there are examples in all nationalised or subsidised industries and activities. (Russia and East Germany easily met their initial Kyoto targets by closing decrepit Soviet-era nationalised industries.)

An “ugly” carbon footprint is produced by green hypocrites who preach barefoot frugalism to us peasants while they live the opulent life style.

Examples are the mansions, yachts and jet-setting of prominent green extremists such as Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio.

The ultimate ugly carbon hypocrites are those who organise and attend the regular meetings, conferences and street protests, drawing thousands of globe-trotting alarmists and “environmentalists” from all over the world by plane, yacht, car, bus, train and taxi to eat, drink, chant and dance while they protest about over-population, excessive consumption and heavy carbon footprints of “all those other people”.

Maybe they should lead by example and stop travelling, eating, drinking, and breathing.

Australians are supposed to feel guilty because some bureaucrat in the climate industry has calculated that we have a very high per capita “carbon footprint”.

By “carbon footprint”, they mean the amount of carbon dioxide gas produced by whatever we do.  Every human activity contributes to our carbon footprint -- even just lying on the beach breathing gently produces carbon dioxide.

Producing carbon dioxide is not bad -- it an essential gas in the cycle of life, and beneficial for all life. There is no proof whatsoever that human emissions cause dangerous global warming.

Moreover, it is not per capita emissions that could affect the climate -- it is total emissions, and on that measure Australia’s small contribution is largely irrelevant. This is just another PR weapon in the extreme green alarmist arsenal.

Even if carbon footprints were important, not all footprints are environmentally equal -- some are good, some are bad and some are just plain ugly.

“Good” carbon footprints are the result of producing unsubsidised things for the benefit of others. An example is a grazier in outback Australia whose family lives frugally and works hard but has a high carbon footprint producing wool, mutton and beef from sustainable native grasslands and may use quad bikes, diesel pumps, electricity, tractors, trucks, trains, planes and ships to supply distant consumers. Many productive Australians with good carbon footprints produce food and fibres, seafood and timber, minerals and energy for grateful consumers all over the world. Activities like this create a large “per capita carbon footprint” for Australia. That so few people can produce so much is an achievement to be proud of.

A “bad” carbon footprint is produced when government subsidies, grants, hand-outs, tax breaks or mandates keep unproductive or unsustainable activities alive, leaving their footprint, but producing little useful in return. The prime examples are subsidised green energy and the government climate industry, but there are examples in all nationalised or subsidised industries and activities. (Russia and East Germany easily met their initial Kyoto targets by closing decrepit Soviet-era nationalised industries.)

An “ugly” carbon footprint is produced by green hypocrites who preach barefoot frugalism to us peasants while they live the opulent life style.

Examples are the mansions, yachts and jet-setting of prominent green extremists such as Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio.

The ultimate ugly carbon hypocrites are those who organise and attend the regular meetings, conferences and street protests, drawing thousands of globe-trotting alarmists and “environmentalists” from all over the world by plane, yacht, car, bus, train and taxi to eat, drink, chant and dance while they protest about over-population, excessive consumption and heavy carbon footprints of “all those other people”.

Maybe they should lead by example and stop travelling, eating, drinking, and breathing.