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Economic downturn: good for our carbon footprint?

In letters on carbon footprints, different units of measurement are used such as joules or megawatt hours and tonnes of CO2. One unit not mentioned is money.

For example, the carbon associated with the heat manufacture of construction materials such as cement and steel may be given as tonnes of CO2 measured presumably as emitted visibly at the factory. But what of the invisible amount emitted in all the associated activities off the factory site such as expended via factory wages and raw materials?

That is built inextricably into the cost of the product which covers all associated activities or work done (energy expended) in what is primarily a fossil-carbon driven economy. That rate of macro-activity is measured in money as gross or global domestic product (GDP) per annum which is then a proxy for energy or carbon. So to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emission, reduce GDP, get poorer. Thus the present global economic downturn will at least be good for the globe.

It follows (controversially) that the "renewable energy" processes are carried pickaback on the huge non-renewable energy economy which, since the puny pre-industrial economy of man and horse muscle-power, has been increasingly fossil-carbon driven. Without that supporting economy, the electric renewables would be unviable and unrenewable. And as they are generally more costly (less fossil energy efficient) they should have no place in it, except for defined strategical reasons.

- NORMAN SEMPLE, 32 Bonaly Terrace, Edinburgh WH13 0EL

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