Emissions from the Poznan talks

2008-12-01

in Rants, Science, The environment

This AFP story strikes me as both misleading and misguided: “UN climate talks to create 13,000 tonnes of carbon.” I suppose that might seem like a lot, if you aren’t used to thinking about tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Firstly, the headline is expressed incorrectly. The real estimate is 13,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, not 13,000 tonnes of carbon, which would mean 47,710 tonnes of carbon dioxide. That is because adding the oxygen molecules increases the mass of a single atom of carbon by a factor of 3.67.

Secondly, 12 kilotonnes is a pretty trifling number, in the grand scheme of things. Canada emits about 1,917,808 tonnes of carbon dioxide per day. The world as a whole emits about fifty times that. If a few fifteen kilotonne meetings can help cut those figures substantially in the near to medium-term, they will have paid for themselves many times over.

There are certainly plenty of valid criticisms of the international efforts to stabilize the climate. The emissions associated with the Conferences of the Parties (COPs) are probably among the weakest.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

R.K. December 1, 2008 at 7:37 pm

Something similar can be said in response to the: “Al Gore flies all the time, therefore we shouldn’t listen to him” argument. If the emissions from him flying around the country help change the course of US policy, more power to him.

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