Living A Low Carb(on) Life

Living A Low Carb(on) Life

In modern western nations most of us live in the black lap of carbon luxury.

We need to learn what a low carb diet might look like.

Political leaders and vested interest groups insist on “team speak” when they speak of the problems of CO2 and climate change. That “team speak” as in “my country vs. some other country” panders to the public and greatly misinforms that same public about the problems of CO2. What makes the CO2 problem is the contribution of each and every one of us and our lifestyle.

The problem is not some total for our team vs. the other team. These days the winning  “team speak” is all about having the lower score. The west likes most to compare its team with the far east Chinese team. Many seem to think or way “those dang Chinese they are the biggest CO2 emitting nation, it’s their fault, and until they rein in their team emissions why should we.”

Of course this is utter non-sense as what makes up the CO2 emissions of a country is the number of people times the emissions per person. In this regard the most technologically engaged societies are the worst per capita emitters. Take for example tiny and relatively undeveloped Sri Lanka where the per capita CO2 emissions are under 1 tonne per year. Compare that with the Australia, Taiwan, Canada, or the USA which all have per capita CO2 emissions off about 20 tonnes per year. Compare that with China which is about 6 tonnes per per year average per capita CO2 emission.

Now our abiding bad habits with regard to CO2 are catching up with us all as members of a global human culture. The impacts of high and rising CO2 are not distributed according to who and where they are emitted. Indeed within a matter of days the CO2 emitted in one location of the world has travelled half way around the world as it mixes with everyone’s CO2.

What might help us all is for all of us to look and learn from those already living a very low carbon lifestyle and see how we might do better. It’s a scary look and likely most modern western citizens will not be able to come anywhere near the low carb diet of the poorest of the world. So when we see what might be required of us to live on a low carbon diet do we revert to our “team speak” and insist that people now living a low carbon lifestyle ought to be prohibited by political rook or crook to remain in those low carbon lives so that the carbon rich might continue to enjoy living in the lap of carbon luxury.

Here in North America an average household emits about 12.5 tonnes of CO2 each year. The family car(s) if there are two emit another 11.7 tonnes. If we were to change our energy requirements to match the average Sri Lankan household we’d need to cut our energy use to 1/10th of our present use. If we were to match the Chinese we’d need to cut back to nearly a third of our power.

But what about that Chinese “team”… they should cut back to 1/3rd of their power consumption too… isn’t that the fair thing to do in this “team game.”

OK here are some per captia Low Carb lifestyle decisions to make,

Target Annual CO2 Emission                  0 tonnes       1 tonne        2 tonnes      4 tonnes         6 tonnes     8 tonnes


No car, just walk or bike                            X

No car, take bus                                                                       X

Drive Hybrid Car                                                                                              X

Economy car                                                                                                                           X

Family mini-van                                                                                                                                             X

Muscle car                                                                                                                                                                               X

Live in Car                                                      X

Live in one room apt                                                          X

Live in one bedroom apt                                                                             X

Share one bedroom apt                                                     X

Single family home without family                                                                                                                           X

Single family home with family                                                                 X

Per Captia CO2