Big foot

February 24, 2009

My one year old son’s foot fits comfortably in the palm of my hand, yet his carbon footprint is huge.  Using an online carbon emissions calculator, I calculated the carbon emissions from the flights that he had taken in his young life.  Turns out his per capita emissions based on his flights alone are greater than those of approximately 70% of the world’s, despite the fact that he weighs less than 25 pounds and his entire vocabulary is comprised of “mommy,” “daddy” and “juice.”

So, how does N.’s carbon footprint stack up?  Well, like I said, I only calculated his emissions from flying, as the calculations from the house and ground transport seemed too complicated and were likely to be much smaller as we don’t own a car and have a small apartment.  This chart, which shows per capita distribution of carbon emissions, shows that N.’s 6.31 tonnes of carbon emitted through his flights puts him exactly on par with the average Iranian (in 2004).   And therefore his emissions are larger than the average French, Mexican, Thai or even Chinese citizen.  Quite sobering.

Of course, N. is an innocent victim of his parent’s irresponsible travel habits, which are contributing to global warming.  He didn’t ask to go to Texas for Christmas, though he definitely enjoyed playing with his grandparents and harassing their dog.  And that’s my only excuse.  Since his grandparents live in two different countries, and we live in a third, almost all of his flights are explained away by visiting them.  Since he was born in November 2007, he’s flown round-trip to the US three times from London, taken one domestic US flight, flown round trip to Italy four times and flown once from Italy to Germany and from Germany back to the UK to attend a wedding.  Makes me wonder if there is a special offset mechanism for keeping globalised children in touch with their grandparents…