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UNEP Issues Some CO2 Reduction Snakeoil!

Posted by feww on June 6, 2008

submitted by a reader

Caution: For external use only! Avoid eye contact. Keep out of children’s reach. Apply sparingly!

UNEP: Twelve Steps to Help You Kick the CO2 Habit

The misleading title is meant to serve as an improvement on the waste recycling one-liners. Those eye-catching headlines invariably encourage consumers to recycle waste, without providing any information as to the full impact of the recycling process on the environment; mysteriously, they often fail to carry any good advice, for example, on how to cut down on the consumption in the first place.

The most glaring UNEP deception is probably the propagation of the myth of self-empowered individuals, the notion that we are in charge and free to do what we choose to do. In other words, it’s not the exponential growth economy that is deciding our lifestyles, social behavior and consumption habits; it is our fault to become addicted to CO2 in the first place!

In reality, however, our lives are ruled by a powerful discourse that prevents us from opting out of consumer lifestyles. The political economy ensures there are no alternatives to the prevailing malignant system. The media and advertising industry influence each and every decision we make. The system builds the roads, parking lots and airports, and it then demands we use them. We have no say on how things should be done. The only “choice” available to us is restricted to the type of vehicle we occupy the roads with to spend the daily installments of our mandatory solitary confinement, a choice we couldn’t make without the help of the advertising industry, of course.

Without a change in the system of economy, we don’t stand a surviving chance as a species!

Tell me again, how will you help kick my CO2 habit, when the economic system is producing the pollution for me?

UNEP Clumsy Scaremongering Diminishes the Seriousness of Environmental Threats

The most egregious misrepresentation made by UNEP in their report must be their recommendation to use a non-electric toothbrush as a major means of halving your carbon footprint. The per person CO2 emissions in the US is about 21.89 metric tons each year (Source: EIA 2005). The average electric toothbrush has a 6.5-Watt power rating—it uses 6.5 joules of electricity per second—that means, taking into account the losses from electricity generation, it produces a total of about 80 mg of CO2 per day, or 29 grams per year, if you brushed your teeth for about a minute every day! How or why the UNEP believes such small amounts of CO2 could make a dent in the overall pollution inventory is unfathomable [even with an inefficient charger they don’t get close to the UNEP figures, or cutting your carbon footprint by half!]

[Note: One metric ton is equal to 1,000 kilograms (kg); 1,000,000 grams (g); 1,000,000,000 milligram (mg).]

As for the electric alarm clocks, those that operate in the range of 20-40 Watts, are responsible for producing about 250-500 mg (a quarter to one half of a gram) of CO2 per day.

Of course, most electronic alarm clocks run on batteries, using an AAA battery (1.5V, 1.2Ah) which is replaced about once a year. While manufacturing batteries creates chemical pollution and carelessly discarded ones constitute an environmental hazard, the batteries are not known as a major source of carbon dioxide pollution!

Just exactly which one of the above figures can you influence and by how much? (Source: EIA 2005)

Below is a list of the UNEP snakeoil remedies:

  • Use a wind-up alarm clock rather than an electric one.
  • Dry clothes on a washing line rather than in a tumble dryer.
  • Pack lighter suitcases. It says that world savings would be 2 million tonnes a year if every airline passenger cut the weight of baggage to below 20 kg and bought duty free goods on arrival. [Emphasis were added!]
  • Use a non-electric toothbrush.
  • Heat bread rolls in a toaster rather than in the oven for 15 minutes.
  • Take a train rather than a car for a daily commute of 8 km.
  • The average British household could cut 2 tonnes of CO2 annually with more efficient insulation, heating and lighting.
  • Reduce winter heating: cutting the temperature by a couple of degrees saves 6 percent in energy bills.
  • Avoid “carbon binges”: a return flight across the Atlantic is equivalent to running a car for a year for each passenger.

How very revealing! It almost tells you which corporations wrote the “Kick the CO2 Habit.”


FEWW Moderators have carefully considered UNEP recommendations and, taking into account all of the circumstances, believe the net results of all energy saving on the national scale in the target countries would only be significant if

  • All airline flights were grounded
  • All automobile journeys were halted
  • All non-essential commercial activities were ended
  • All unnecessary industrial production were stopped
  • All wasteful consumer practices were eradicated



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