Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Does Bernie Madoff have a low carbon footprint?

I bet you think the Green Machine cannot spell goal but I was not thinking of scoring today. The British word for Jail is Gaol and that is where Bye Bye Bernie will spend the rest of his life. The carbon footprint of inmates is far below the population at large. Inmates live in small cells with less heat and for sure fewer windows. They also do not have expansive lawns and hot tubs, so they are actually doing their part in the effort to meet the Kyoto Protocol goals. In fact if all of us were to live in a mere eight foot by eight foot space and not driving cars the US would be totally self sufficient in energy. It is therefore surprising that Rush to Judgment Limbaugh has not suggested this on his radio show.

Inmates do get three square meals and a two thousand calorie a day diet. The per person carbon dioxide footprint for the metabolism of this amount of food produced via exhalation is approximately one pound per day. Cooking their food, lighting the jail, heating the cell and other incidentals most probably amounts to another ten pounds a day of carbon dioxide emissions. This is a mere ten percent of the carbon dioxide footprint of the average free and brave citizen. In fact the prisoner’s carbon footprint is about half that of the average person in China. I do not know how Chinese prisoners are fed and housed but I would suspect these suspects are not exactly living in a Federal Country Club and in turn a prisoner in a Chinese jail has an extremely low carbon footprint.

This jail house rock talk is a Macabre subject, so let’s rather talk about goals than gaols. The word goal means that there is an end point and a purpose toward which an endeavor is directed. Therefore what is a realistic goal for us to set for the reduction of our collective environmental footprint. I believe that within a decade it will be pretty easy to reduce the per capita carbon footprint in the USA by fifteen percent. Less carbon emissions does not necessarily mean lower living standards. Much of the reduction will come about be the elimination of gross wastage. My own carbon footprint is down by thirty percent from four years ago. I now van pool to work, keep the daytime heating of our home down to sixty seven degrees and turn the heat completely off at night, and I have also shut down the hot tub as I never use it in the winter. I will restart the hot tub after the spring equinox as I do really enjoy soaking in the tub. I will however set the spa temperature to ninety nine degrees as I do not want to become a wilted green machine. Even though I have accomplished this level of energy savings, I still estimate my personal carbon footprint to be approximately seventy pounds a day of carbon dioxide emissions, or about a ton a month or twelve tons a year. At standard conditions of atmospheric pressure and room temperature twelve tons of carbon dioxide occupies a volume of approximately three thousand cubic feet, a space that is about six times the volume of Bernie’s new home.