Preliminary reports from the U.S. government’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) show that American CO2 emissions rose in 2007 to 5,984 million metric tons. For those of us who use the English measurement system, that’s over 13 trillion pounds. Let me just write that number out so you can see how long it is:

13,000,000,000,000 lbs.

This means that in 2007, the U.S. alone produced about a ton of carbon dioxide for every human being on the planet. If we just count the American population, our per capita emissions are about 22 tons per person. That’s more than the weight of an 18-wheeler truck per person per year.

A little more perspective: for every dollar in the American economy, there is nearly a pound of CO2 produced.

These figures really draw out what I’m now calling the “American Carbon Obesity Epidemic.” It is an interesting idea to think of carbon weight like human weight. By pairing Americans’ collective desire to slim waistlines with the collective need to fight global warming, hopefully progress toward good habits and reasonable consumption will be made easier. Individuals could even create a “target carbon weight” and try to slim down to fit into that old climate that looked so good on us in the old days.

Get occasional updates from UN Dispatch

* indicates required

Want Our Social Media List?