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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Media Trickery: Part 3

The Christmas dinner article considered before states that 51,000 tons of CO2 are involved in Christmas dinner for 20,333,000 Britons.

51,000 tons is a huge amount of CO2. We don’t know the size of a pile that would make, but we know it is significant. You begin to feel guilty that your eating creates so much carbon dioxide. But you have to eat, so what can you do? You begin to feel helpless in the face of such enormity. In fact, you really can’t do much to solve this problem. It’s such a gigantic problem government must take care of it. That’s the conclusion the Goracle wants you to draw.

This type of article is designed to give you helplessness and guilt, but assuage that somewhat with the explicit or implicit assurance that specialists and government will solve it for you. It is calculated to soften you up for more government manipulation to pay a carbon tax, pay more tax subsidies for alternative energy and the like.

The article attempts to make the 51,000 tons of CO2 understandable on a large family level. It calculates a Christmas dinner for eight people creates 44 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. 44 pounds still sounds like a lot.

How much CO2 per person is this article talking about? That’s what I want to know. 51,000 tons of CO2 divided by 20 million people is 5.02 pounds of carbon dioxide per person. But that is for the feast of Christmas dinner. You had to eat anyway, so let’s assume you splurged twice as much as for a regular meal. Your carbon footprint is 2.5 pounds extra for Christmas dinner.

Now that puts it on the shelf where I can reach it. Two and a half pounds doesn’t sound all that bad. And it isn’t.

The writer of the article instills guilt by using the figure for eight people rather than the weight per person. And then the writer did not factor in the necessity of eating anyway which cuts your guilt load in half.

Your personal carbon footprint is small. In order for the news media to impress you with enormity, they must aggregate individual carbon footprints for large blocks of people. Then the numbers are impressive. That’s the way they want it. They don’t want you to know your extra carbon footprint for Christmas dinner is just 2.5 pounds! Most people do not feast in this manner continually, but resume a normal daily diet which does not yield an occasion to beat us over the heads with the above trickery.

Don't let Al Gore make you feel guilty. Your carbon footprint will always be a fraction of his.

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