Tuesday, June 24, 2008

What does "carbon footprint" mean, exactly?

NY Times editorial writer Verlyn Klinkenborg takes the term "carbon footprint" to task in today's Editorial Observer:

"What makes me uneasy is simply knowing how quickly humans adopt new phrases and how readily we confuse them with the reality - or the unreality - of our actions. The two things we seem to do most instinctively are manipulate language and create markets, and those two instincts converge when it comes to carbon footprints. Creating a market in moral carbon - offsets that counter our energy-rich lifestyle - feels a little like Rotisserie baseball, more illusion than reality...

"There is nothing trivial about grasping the idea that lies behind carbon footprints, trying to understand the scale of our consumption and its widespread environmental costs. Think about it properly, and it leads you to a profound critique of who we are and how we behave. Act on it, and you immediately see how carbonaceous our lives have become."

1 comment:

Amelia Lohrenz said...

My roommate is going to Spain with her boyfriend in October. In an effort to "compensate" (her word) for the carbon cost of the plane ticket, they are on a locally-grown diet from now until their departure. Carbon morality puts me uneasily in mind of Catholic indulgences.