Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Carbon Footprint Fanatic

"How Bad Are Bananas?  The Carbon Footprint of Everything" by Mike Berners-Lee  Greystone Books   232 pages   $16.95

I picked this book up to make  a stab at learning what the hell carbon footprints actually are.  But I had great difficulties understanding anything in it.  I am math challenged and it's not old age - I have always used a calculator to balance my checkbook. 

The author has a set formula at the top of whatever he's talking about (paper vs. plastic bags) like this:  12 g co2e = carbon burned making a recycled paper bag.  80 g co2e is th amount used to make a "virgin" paper bag, like a department store bag. 

Paper bags have to be heavier, thus one has two to four times the carbon footprint of an equivalent plastic bag.  He should have told the City of Los Angeles, which is moving steadily to ban all plastic bags, that. 

The book's chapters are divided into weights - the least used is under 10 grams (sending a text message, walking through a door, drying your hands) and the biggest is one million tons which would be a volcano, the World Cup, a forest fire, a war.

He posits that carbon is like money and it can't be managed well unless you understand it. 

I can tell you that he believes a single red rose could have the same climate change impact as almost 10 lbs. of bananas.  What a rose has to do with bananas or carbon footprints/climate change, I couldn't begin to tell you.  I believe the more transport required to move the product (roses or bananas) is the source of the carbon footprint.  At least I got that part of it right.

I think...

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