... they say we produce far more carbon emissions per capita share than anyone else.
Well, that's what a class of MIT students has calculated, anyhow. The class estimated the average carbon emissions of Americans of various lifestyles, from the ultra-rich to middle-class suburbanites to the urban homeless. They found that even the least consumptive lifestyles still produce an average of 8.5 tons of carbon dioxide per year, more than double the world average. The average American obliterates the world average, with 20 tons of CO2 pumped into the stratosphere. Although part of this excessive carbonation is due to government services such as roads, police,courts, and the military, a large chunk of it is based in our own lifestyle choices: What we eat, how we commute, what we wear, and how we satisfy our retail therapy needs all add to our carbon footprint. We even carbonize when we think we're reducing carbon:
Unlike some other attempts to quantify carbon-emission rates, Gutowski and his students took great care to account for often-overlooked factors, such as the "rebound effect." That's when someone makes a particular choice--for example, buying a hybrid car instead of a gas-guzzler--but then 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.