Poorest Americans’ carbon emissions double global average

April 29th, 2008 - 5:17 pm ICT by admin  

Washington April 29 (IANS) People consuming the least energy in the US are still producing more than double the global per-capita average of carbon emissions, reveals a new study. Carbon emissions in the US are similar whether you live in a hovel or a mansion, subsist on home grown vegetables or wolf down imported steaks, and whether you’re a jet-setter or a sedentary retiree.

Twenty-one students of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, under Timothy Gutowski, studied carbon emissions of Americans - from the homeless to multi-millionaires, from Buddhist monks to soccer moms - and compared them to those of other countries.

“Regardless of income, there is a certain floor below which the individual carbon footprint of a person in the US will not drop,” said Gutowski, a professor at MIT.

But the “floor” turned out to be 8.5 tonnes. That was the emissions calculated for a homeless person who ate in soup kitchens and slept in homeless shelters.

The MIT class found that the rich accounted for 20 tonnes, compared to a global average of four tonnes, reported Sciencedaily.

Gutowski and his team took great care to account for often-overlooked factors, such as the “rebound effect” - when someone makes a choice like buying a hybrid car instead of a gas-guzzler, but uses the money saved from their reduced gasoline costs to do something else, such as taking a long trip by airplane.

The net impact, in such a case, may actually be an overall increase in carbon emissions.

“When you save energy, you save money,” Gutowski explained. “The question is, how are you going to spend that money?”

The results of the study will be presented in May at the IEEE International Symposium on Electronics and Environment in San Francisco.

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