“Carbon footprint” smoke and mirrors

Several months ago, I caught an episode of Penn & Teller’s “Bull****” that showed people collecting money in parking lots from shoppers, by making them feel guilty that their vehicles were contributing to global warming.  People were actually being made to feel sufficiently guilty about driving an SUV to the super market, that they were handing over money to a perfect stranger.  These were not actors hired by Penn & Teller to illustrate a point; they were real – albeit mighty stupid – people who apparently are part of the “green generation.”  Members of this growing movement apparently feel guilty that mankind has over the course of its sorry existence, so desecrated Mother Earth that we must now spend our lives atoning for such sins as driving cars, flying on airplanes, or turning on electric lights. 

 P.T. Barnum actually underestimated the number of suckers born every minute.

 Apparently this is no longer a few sappy people in La La Land taking a break from defending Roman Polanski to attend a charity ball to save the dolphins.  Carbon-mania is going main stream.  New kiosks at San Francisco’s international airport soon will offer flyers the opportunity to pay for the “carbon emission” to be produced by the passenger jet which will fly them from Point A to Point B.  A flight from the City by the Bay to New York will cost more than a shorter flight to, say, San Diego; and a trans-Pacific flight will cost, well, if you have to ask you can’t afford it. 

 Where will the “carbon-guilt” dollars that gullible air travelers pay into these kiosks go?  To help entrepreneurial businesses that have been able to satisfy those who control fund-raising at the airport that they will use the money for truly “green” projects.  One such company is Dogpatch Biofuels, described in an environment-oriented periodical as a “bio-diesel fueling station in the Bay area.”

 Wal-Mart, sensing an emerging consumer trend, reportedly is investing heavily in developing a methodology to calculate the “environmental impact” of products it sells.  Presumably this would convince customers that the massive retail chain is sufficiently environmentally conscious, that people would buy toilet paper from Wal-Mart instead of from Kroger down the street. 

 Seriously, Wal-Mart actually plans soon to start labeling its products with a “sustainability score.”  This pseudo-scientific ranking would measure not only the amount of carbon emissions that went into an item’s manufacture, but also how much water was used in its creation and how much waste it produced. The global retailer reportedly has not yet decided how to display these scores; some have suggested a simple number from 1 to 10, while others opt for a range of colors.  Perhaps Wal-Mart’s researchers should consult with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), whose “threat level” color code has proved so instrumental in protecting our nation from terrorist attacks over the past eight years.

 The fallacy (or at least one fallacy) with such calculations is that there is simply no real way to measure the environmental impact of any particular product, whether manufactured or organic.  “Green” researchers in the UK and in the US have been trying unsuccessfully to develop consistent, standardized methodology for measuring the “carbon footprint” of a cow; so as to convey to consumers the environmental “cost” of a quart of milk, a piece of steak or a pair of leather shoes.  Trying to calculate the environmental cost of bovine belching (condemned by many as a prime culprit of global warming), for example, has proved distressingly difficult.

 Where will this “carbon footprint” fixation taking hold here and in Europe lead?  An eventual “environmental tax,” certainly; but it will go beyond that.  The Optimum Population Trust in the UK, for example, has called for measures to ensure that families have no more than two children, because offspring in excess of that number is an “eco-crime.”

44 comments Add your comment


October 12th, 2009
6:33 am

So now after importing MILLIONS of immigrants (mostly blacks and muslims) into the UK and Europe due to slow birth rates among whites, there now worried about couples having more than 2 kids?? Wow the extreme leftist in charge of Europe are really headed towards communism it seems.


October 12th, 2009
6:46 am

Any politically/ socially aware white person in the UK should support the BNP. There the only ones with the balls to speak the truth!
Did you know the #1 new name for babies born in the UK is Muhammad?


October 12th, 2009
7:05 am

Those who don’t understand what the radically liberal EU is doing to Europe need to catch up.
Brussels economists claim Britain and other EU states will “need” 56 million immigrant workers between them by 2050 to make up for the “demographic decline” due to falling birth rates and rising death rates across Europe.
They plan for the majority of these immigrant workers to be African.


“Speaking at a meeting in London, Anjem Choudary, right-hand man of exiled preacher Omar Bakri Mohammed, said: “It may be by pure conversion that Britain will become an Islamic state. We may never need to conquer it from the outside.”

“We do not integrate into Christianity. We will ensure that one day you will integrate into the Sharia Islamic law.”

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1054909/Have-babies-Muslims-UK-hate-fanatic-says-warning-comes-9-11-UK.html#ixzz0TiXrt6SC


October 12th, 2009
7:25 am

The issue is not white/black/brown in Europe. The issue is creating energy. Yes, we are a fossil-fuel based economy. Yes, we will run out of fossil fuels at some point. Yes, we need to start using non fossil-fuel sources of energy production. Nuclear is our best option at this time. Wind and solar can play a role, but they can realistically contribute only a minor proportion.


October 12th, 2009
7:37 am

I have used a carbon calculator available on the internet to find out I use 1/30 of the energy that Al Gore uses in his home.This does not take into account all the energy he uses outside the home.I can’t find it in me to feel guilty about what I use for carbon.

Mike Hunt

October 12th, 2009
7:38 am

My main concern is how loud my Xbox 360 sounds when playing games. Forget global warming and carbon footprints. I want a quieter Xbox 360.


October 12th, 2009
7:42 am

Population exposion has to be considered a factor. Carbon counting is a joke at the personal level.

In the USA we need to only allow tax deductions/exemptions for up to 2 children with some possible exceptions. Also tax annual car mileage above a certain level. Yeah, I know another tax but in this case it will force people to think more about their actions.


October 12th, 2009
8:04 am

We’ll just let the market handle it. The oil won’t stay this cheap for long, just a matter of time.

Now, the last time the market was going to put a lot of rich people out of work, the rich bankers and Wall Streeters took (stole?) our tax money.

Let’s just agree that this time the rich folks will actually have to pay for their gas when the price goes up. If this free market stuff is good for the middle class and the poor, it ought to be good enough for the rich.

Bob's A Cherry Picker

October 12th, 2009
8:14 am

Hi Bob,

More solid cherry picking. As with any new system, technology, market, etc…, there is hype and mis-information. You’ve done a good job of finding some of the carbon related doozies.

But, the fact of the matter is that we’re carbon-based life forms, and we’re engaging in practices that are moving enormous quantities of carbon from one place (the earth) to another place (the air). In fact, we’re economically incentivized to do this, but we have no idea what the impact will be. It may be really, really bad. Might not be though. Tough to tell.

I know you have a law degree and were smart enough to get yourself elected to congress, but my money’s on the scientists researching this full time who are basically saying “Houston, we have a problem”.

I’ll take a little guilt over a fundamental change in the way the Atlantic Stream works any day.


October 12th, 2009
8:24 am

Anyone like “PM” and “Bob’s a cherry picker” deserve their self inflicted misery. Enjoy your carbon counting while the rest of us enjoy living.


October 12th, 2009
8:47 am

Excessive celebrating (living) has a price tag also…


October 12th, 2009
8:49 am

Curtailing people’s driving has serious consequences.Businesses will suffer to the point of going extinct.You would have a whole population like me,people who don’t go anywhere or spend any money.I haven’t been to a restaurant since Nov.1,2007.Can you imagine what happens to the restaurant business if you can convince 50% of the population to restrict their driving?That’s just one category of business to think about.

The Government is Coming, The Government is Coming.....

October 12th, 2009
8:55 am

Alright, Bob is BACK from the looney libertarian extreme! (open borders, hard drugs and abortions)

Notice it’s now called climate change instead of global warming. Hard to bring attention to an issue when everyone is FREEZING! BTW, there is climate change….it’s called the four seasons.


October 12th, 2009
8:56 am

In the climate change debate, CO2 really doesn’t matter. 1000 ppm by volume water vapor means that there is more than forty pounds of water in a million ccubic feet of air. 500 parts per billion CO2 means less than 0.06 pounds in the same million cubic feet.

This is not about reality, this is about people who think they are better than other people trying to dictate lifestyle choices.

Steven Daedalus

October 12th, 2009
9:02 am

Who cares, you right wingers reproduce like a bunch of rabbits and constantly talk about the debt we are leaving your grandchildren, it won’t matter at all because there will be no planet for them to live on.

Public Option, NEVER!

October 12th, 2009
9:08 am

Rightwingers produce like a bunch of rabbits? Been to Grady or the ghetto lately? Thanks for the morning laugh!


October 12th, 2009
9:18 am

I don’t think this is about “feeling guilty” as much as feeling responsible and needing to be good stewards over our natural resources. Sure everyone could drive a Suburban and leave all of the lights in their house on 24/7 but is it the right thing to do? Isn’t there a sense of wastefulness in that? Particularly giving the fact that we are using a finite energy source like fossilized animals and plants as fuel sources!

Do the Math

October 12th, 2009
9:30 am

All you’ve prooved is that SUV drivers are stupid.


October 12th, 2009
9:39 am

To Liberal Notsolite: What “scientific facts” are you referring to? The fact that water vapor has a higher heat capacity than CO2? The fact that there is more than six hundrerd times as mutch water in the atmospher as CO2? The fact that for much of the worlds syrface we have less than forty years worth of weather data?


October 12th, 2009
9:53 am

If the Libertarian view is that the average person is wise enough to control his/her destiny, and to he** with the rest of us, then we are all doomed. The average person watches TV eight hours a day, eats three meals a week at McDonalds, shops at WalMart, has or will have diabetes & heart disease due to lifestyle choices, and believes FOX news blathering unquestioningly.
Personally, I don’t think population control is all that bad. If China hadn’t attempted it there would be 3 billion Chinese in 30 years. Unfortunately most of the human race is reproducing like rats, with no thought to it’s future. So a die-off is inevitable due to famine, global climate change, plague, etc. The world’s population cannot continue increasing exponentially without dire consequences. So people advocating limiting family size are rational and see the future consequences of unconstrained population growth.


October 12th, 2009
10:00 am

We have a perfect storm in this country of people who simply have lost all common sense, who are very liberally educated, and therefore are as ignorant as dirt, so all of these scams and idiot causes can take hold. If we could just keep Nancy Pelosi, and all those Congressmen in Washington, while Congress was in session, rather than running back and forth across the country, we would save lots of carbon emissions. It ain’t the little guy who is sh–ing where he lives.


October 12th, 2009
10:21 am

You want to get the population to self reduce? Have the parents start paying per child for their kids grade school education. These social parasites depend on somebody else to pay to educate their kids so they spawn freely. I don’t have kids so why should I have to pay my whole life to educate the spawn of everybody else? I’m glad that socialized health care is coming. It is the last thing I need to be able to quit my job and live off what I’ve earned while all of you pay for my health care just like I’ve paid for your kids education. Thank you jesus!!!


October 12th, 2009
10:35 am

Who in the **** believes Bob Barr is “right wing”? He’s a libertarian which is absolutely not the same thing as republican/right wing. That said, now that I think of it maybe this article doesn’t really fit that party platform. Why can’t private citizens and businesses try to guilt us into this carbon offset nonsense? But, there is of course the very real danger that the government will begin making this a tax somehow.

Mr. all talk no action Obama might add this to his agenda of change, further wasting our government’s resources and time. Thank goodness Obama is at heart a talk loudly and carry a small stick kind of guy, because if he accomplished even half of what he set out to do we’d be broke as a country.


October 12th, 2009
10:42 am

Cherry Picker,

I understand that you want to believe scientists over politicians (in this case, Bob) but don’t be fooled into thinking that either is without an agenda. There is big $$$ being spent on “green” research and carbon-offsets… What’s the saying “Everything looks like a nail when you’re a hammer”? All I’m saying is that when paid to find links between human activity and major environmental catastrophe all bets are off. If the researchers come back without finding any sort of link, what will happen to their funding? Just remember, there are BILLIONS of dollars being spent to find a link between carbon and “climate change”… scientists aren’t above finding “possible” links where there isn’t enough data to actually prove it.


October 12th, 2009
10:57 am

I never have understood the vitriol that many feel toward environmentalists.

Comments like, “Apparently this is no longer a few sappy people in La La Land taking a break from defending Roman Polanski to attend a charity ball to save the dolphins”, really serve as illustrations.

Why would someone not want to save dolphins? Why would that activity be viewed negatively?

If you want to have a scientific discussion on differing opinions of whether air pollution is causing global climate change, fine. However, why lash out against someone who, at the least, has good intentions.

Its like the sight of someone recycling a can makes others angry, and I don’t get it.


October 12th, 2009
11:11 am

The ugly truth is that the global Left refuses to allow the 3rd world to develop capitalist systems as the 1st world has done.

Even though the US uses more power than other countries per capita, we pollute the least, per capita. This is due to technological advances.

The dirty little secret is that the Left despises true progress because this freedom allows for personal liberty & therefore independence. For the Left to survive, it requires dependency of the masses.

btw. . . Fossil Fuels as a term used to describe oil is considered by many as a politically motivated label. There is a school of thought that oil is an inherent part of the earth’s make-up & not the remains dinosaurs & plant material.

btww. . . Doesn’t plant-life require CO2 to live & would not logic tell you that more CO2 in the atmosphere would in fact be beneficial for the planet’s plant-life? I’m just sayin.’

Lou Lou

October 12th, 2009
11:22 am

” . . . consult the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), whose “threat level” color code has proved so instrumental in protecting our nation from terrorist attacks over the past eight years.”

Those of you who believe the TSA color code stuff does anything but manipulate gullible people into anxiety need to put down the propaganda and get a grip. Attempts to rewrite history are sad.


October 12th, 2009
11:38 am

Bob, don’t spread more lies than you already do. The situation is going code red. You need to stop lying to the uninformed. Be ashamed of yourself!


October 12th, 2009
11:48 am

Lou Lou – You misunderstood the point of the TSA paragraph. Maybe that’s why these blogs are full of ignorant posts, it’s because some of the posters can’t even comprehend what the blog says.


October 12th, 2009
12:03 pm

bob is running out of ideas…again


October 12th, 2009
12:37 pm

One thing about the “know it alls”, nobody likes them.


October 12th, 2009
12:46 pm

EXCELLENT post at 10:57 pd. It’s nice to hear an intelligent opinion.


October 12th, 2009
2:35 pm

First, global warming or climate change, you pick, is a discussion that long ago jumped from the serious to the political. Now that the discussion is in the political arena it will have a political solution.

Second, if it turns out way down the road that global warming was a real problem, that’s OK. We will all be dead anyway & will not know the difference.

Third, our progeny can worry about global warming. But they probably will not give a hoot as they will be so weighed down paying off the national debt we are leaving them that an early death may be welcome.

Chris Broe

October 12th, 2009
2:45 pm

CNN just reported that Rush Limbaugh thinks that President Obama should not have won the Nobel Peace Prize. Rush Limbaugh backed up his concern by citing that Beyonce made an amazing video this year, “and everything”.

Fox News just reported that Kanye West supports Rush Limbaugh’s ideas about Beyonce deserving the Nobel Prize over Obama.

ABC news just reported that Obama has announced his new policy on gays in the military: “Don’t T-bag, Dont Play Taps”.

Shananeeee Fananeeeeeee

October 12th, 2009
2:54 pm

I will tell you what else is smoke and mirrors sir, President Obama. Change, Change we can believe in? That was smoke and mirrors too. Any promise, any propaganda to get elected and then on to your own agenda.

Chris Broe

October 12th, 2009
3:12 pm

Most of the methane in the atmosphere comes from termites, not people or cows.

Grading Barr: C+ (Not so much “cap and trade” as “dunce cap and tard”.

Barr ridicules global warming without any reference to his own understanding of planet formation. That’s like Rush Limbaugh trying to critique a patriot. (Rush knows nothing about patriotism). Rush would rather burn our flag than let Obama carry it. Rush Limbaugh is in fact Osama bin Laden’s beard.

What does that mean? A woman can be a gay man’s beard, that is, his disquise. A gay man only needs to front a beautiful woman in his life or at a party, and he can hide his homosexuality, (or so he thinks).

Osama doesn’t have to conduct an offensive against Obama when Rush Limbaugh is doing it for him. Osama has the luxury of fronting a beautiful woman named Rush Limbaugh who is firing away at our president and praying to Allah himself that Obama fails.

Well, Rush, Dont T-bag, and Don’t play taps. And clam up, you beard.

Hillbilly Deluxe

October 12th, 2009
5:18 pm

We could probably all cut back a little and live cleaner than we do but my carbon footprint ain’t near as big as Al Gore’s. When his impact on the planet gets as low as mine, then I might listen to him.

Steven Daedalus

October 13th, 2009
7:49 am

Chris You nailed Rush.


October 13th, 2009
12:37 pm

As an athiest, when I die that will be it. No spirit looking on to see if the world will continue or not.

So why should I not get the most out of life today, and let tomorrow worry about tomorrow? Why should I be taxed to help children not even born with tomorrow’s ecology? I want the good life, and I want it now.

Screw the people who will live after I die. “Live fast, die young, and leave a good lookin’ corpse.”

Al Goron

October 13th, 2009
2:27 pm

Excuse me…LADIES AND GENTLEMEN CAN WE ALL TAKE OUR SEATS PLEASE…thank you. Ill be brief. Global climate change is real its here and we have to deal with it. Our climate is changing every second of everyday, can we atleast all agree on that.

Thank you all…thank you and have a pleasant evening.


October 13th, 2009
10:20 pm

Why idd you have to follow up your perfect analysis of the water wars judge’s ruling with this garbage. Oh well. I guess pefection was too much to expect from Mr. BBarr more than once.


October 13th, 2009
10:51 pm

REP. ROBERT WEXLER IS RESIGNING TOMORROW A.M…..There really is a God above………One lying SObee down… just a couple hundred more to go….November 2, 2010 can’t get here fast enough….


October 14th, 2009
6:41 am

The issue of global warming is moot. At some point, the sun will explode, and the issue will be galaxy melting.

I think we’ve got time.

Between now and then, we’ll keep tabs on Al’s net worth.

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