TIL about the phrase 'carbon footprint'

submitted by Today edited

It was initially used by BP to shift blame to consumers instead of oil companies.

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Avatar southsamurai

You know that scene in the Jurassic Park movie? Where there's this big dinosaur print, big enough to step into?

Imagine a footprint so big that you can stand in it without knowing it's a footprint, and you leave your own teeny tiny adorable little footprints inside it.

BP's is still bigger than that


Also, BP is only 2% of world oil production, so make that footprint 50x larger again.

Avatar Zagorath

BP's is to that what that is to yours.

Avatar Couldbealeotard

Are you thinking of the 1998 American Godzilla film?

Avatar southsamurai

Not sure? They may have done that too, or instead. As far as that goes, I seem to remember it being done in land of the lost (the show, can't remember if it's in the movie or not).


Tell me you've never seen Jurassic Park without telling me you've never seen Jurassic Park.

Avatar Couldbealeotard

Avatar Draconic NEO

Same with plastic companies trying to encourage plastic recycling, they're only doing it because the real solution is to ban or regulate their business.


And the big secret is that plastic recycling happens much, much less often than you think. In Australia less than 10% of what gets collected for recycling is actually recycled. It's similar in other countries.


It's spread to being used by more entities than just BP, but the blame-shifting purpose remains the same.

Climate change can only be solved by regulating fossil fuel production at its source (e.g. taxing it enough to fully compensate for its negative externalities), not by trying to guilt-trip individuals.



The same trick is played with recycling. Blame the end consumer for a supply chain completely out of their control.

The biggest polluters are corporations and we stop their pollution by regulation. These mega corps would have you believe that it's really your fault PFAS are everywhere because you shouldn't have bought those Teflon coated products. Nevermind the fact that Teflon is everywhere a nonstick surface is needed.


Yep. The personal responsibility gambit (or should I say fallacy?).

It was such a clever idea, starting with Coca Cola's "Litterbug" campaign (where they campaigned against bottle deposits under the guise of wanting "personal responsibility" over "regulations.")

It's "up to the consumer" to make the right choices. It just so happens that the meat from decently treated animals is five times more expensive and that you have to drive 100 miles to buy it. Or that being environmentally conscious has been made into a tiring exercise in futility where you constantly have to inconvenience yourself.

As an added bonus, individuals trying to convince other individuals to inconvenience themselves in the same way can be painted as obnoxious, holier-than-thou and insufferable. A real double win for unscrupulous big business.

Avatar DessertStorms

The fact that teflon is still everywhere should be proof enough that regulations are worthless in the face of capitalism (a feature of course, not a bug)


Not really, PFAS have been almost completely unregulated. It is just in the last 2 years that we are starting to see PFAS regulations globally. Up until that point, we allowed companies to literally just dump them down the rain or in a lake.

If regulations were so worthless, you should be asking yourself why every single industry fights new ones. Why the supreme court in the US has taken a position to kill Chevron Deference which weakens federal agencies ability to regulate.

The failure isn't regulations, the failure is a government system that severely neuters the ability of a government to regulate. The failure is a bunch of science denying corporate captured politicians that don't care how they destroy the planet.

Avatar DessertStorms

No, the failure is capitalism and those corporations not wanting to be regulated owning the governments making the regulations.

Which is precisely why any regulation under capitalism is toothless bunk, since it is designed by and for the corporations, to make sure they can keep making money despite it.

Once in a while having a regulation actually come in in time for it to have any impact is like a broken clock being right twice a day, not proof that regulation under capitalism do anything (you claim that teflon now being regulated means regulations work, but can you seriously not see that it taking that long to get bare minimum regulation after decades of pollution and poisoning of consumers is proof that regulations are merely a lip service paid by government to the public to pretend like they're acting in our favour?).

The point isn't - don't regulate industry, it's - at the point where industry has control of government, regulation is meaningless and always in their service, otherwise they wouldn't concede (a little like greenwashing - the oil companies commit to producing x amount of green energy, but what they don't tell you is that that x amount is a tiny fraction of their entire production capability, which they'll continue to use oil for. We're never going to get them to stop using oil, because they just don't have to, no legislation will ever be allowed to pass that will stop them. Which is why eating the rich and blowing up their pipelines is the answer, but I digress).


Eh, don't really disagree with what you are saying. The problem is money and industry influence in politics and it's something that needs to be eliminated. I don't quiet take your point that regulations don't matter. Assuming money and industry influence are removed from politics we'd see laws and regulations more line with the public interest over corporate interest.

Even if we fully ditched capitalism, you'd still need/want regulations setting the bounds on how government can/should operate.

admiralteal , edited

Plenty of other ways from a carbon tax -- not least of which because the carbon tax has itself proven to be a convenient industry distraction that sucks air out of the room.

Especially since it's not clear removal tech will ever be able to ramp up sufficiently to cover continued burning.

A carbon tax is an albatross. It's not even worth seriously discussing. It's ten steps beyond politically infeasible -- probably even more infeasible than actual prohibition. It's innately regressive even if you try to do weird structural things like progressively returning the money (because the return is just going to be economically inefficient and complex tax codes ALWAYS benefit the poor and vulnerable the least).

And most importantly, the fossil fuels have to stay in the ground. We have already pumped out too much and we must move towards pumping no more.

The fossil industry would in many ways LOVE for a carbon tax solution because that would be the exception to prove the rule that continued extraction will be allowed forever. That their business model, which has plenty of cash already, can drill baby drill.

And in the meantime, we continue along the path of e.g. the IRA and invest heavily in alternatives, renewables, and infrastructure development. Fossil fuels are already a significantly more expensive energy source than solar and wind and that gap will only keep growing wider, ESPECIALLY if we delete fossil subsidies. And those learning curves are how we will kill fossils worldwide. Why should a developing nation with flexible climate ethics be importing Russian coal when they could be building renewable energy production that does not require importing a suspect commodity that will be even cheaper for them?


Then why does CCL actively promote carbon fee and dividend as its most beneficial policy? Your logic doesn't even make sense - you're saying the fossil lobby would love to be taxed further? Nonsense. If that were true, we'd have a carbon fee enacted decades ago. It's not innately regressive, and your reasoning doesn't even make sense because your entire premise rests on complexity = bad, not any actual logic. This isn't to say it's politically feasible, but you haven't offered a politically feasible method for just stopping drilling altogether. All a carbon fee does is offer a revenue neutral way to slowly and surely shift everyone's behavior by pricing in externalities. It's very much viable and equitable, and if you think it's somehow harder than banning fuel and banning capitalism you're simply not being serious. We have a market mechanism to prevent bad behavior - taxes and fees. Let's use them. Feel free to ban extraction too, but that's not where I'll be focusing my personal lobbying efforts.


admiralteal , edited

Why does CCL, an organization that was founded by a bunch of neoliberal/Reaganomics businessmen specifically to advocate for setting up a carbon tax, advocate for a carbon tax. Hmm, let me think about that for a few minutes and get back to you...

There's so many voices in the climate movement saying the same things I do -- that chasing carbon taxes and similar politically radioactive policies is terrific waste of time and that we should instead focus on building incentives and public works towards research, infrastructure, and energy investment. But chase that white whale, have fun.


You can't just call any market based solution "Reaganomics", but ok. It's logically inconsistent to say that carbon taxes are favored by industry and neoliberals, when those very people aren't actually pushing for carbon taxes. Since neoliberals and industry have a stranglehold on policy and they haven't done it, I must conclude you're wrong. Why don't you cite some of the voices "in the climate movement " that are against carbon taxes? I'm not seeing them. What I see is trust the science, and the desire to build political momentum that will results in the science based solutions coming into effect. Things like ending fossil fuels subsidies, requiring utilities switch to renewables, increasing vehicle emissions standards, incentives for electrification, and yes, carbon taxes.

I'm really curious what your actual solution is here. How are you going to get everyone to leave the oil and gas in the ground? A white whale is something you can't actually find - seems like destroying capitalism or whatever your vague idea is fits that description much better than pricing in externalities via a tax, something that can very simply be layered in to our market structures with our current institutions (and something that is actually happening in dozens of countries, but is somehow impossible according to you).

admiralteal , edited

George Shultz, one of the founders of CCL, was literally one of the guys who helped Regan craft his economic policy vision, and I'm sure many of those he brought on with him were part of that field too. I don't just call anything Reaganomics, but I DO call this shit that way.

If you seriously want to hear different voices, I recommend you start with David Roberts at Volts: https://www.volts.wtf/

He interviews everyone, has clear opinions, and backs up his positions with practical politics.

(edit: maybe start with this one?: https://www.volts.wtf/p/do-dividends-make-carbon-taxes-more )

I already told you my actual solution. You didn't listen.

we continue along the path of e.g. the IRA and invest heavily in alternatives, renewables, and infrastructure development. Fossil fuels are already a significantly more expensive energy source than solar and wind and that gap will only keep growing wider, ESPECIALLY if we delete fossil subsidies. And those learning curves are how we will kill fossils worldwide. Why should a developing nation with flexible climate ethics be importing Russian coal when they could be building renewable energy production that does not require importing a suspect commodity that will be even cheaper for them?


Climate change can only be solved by regulating fossil fuel production at its source

I like this. Balance the cost equation of recycled plastic vs new plastic vs glass/metal (since glass and metal are basically infinitely reusable and recyclable) for single use and minimal use items so they're more expensive and it tips the scales making many things far more financially-responsible to both produce and consume in a climate conscious manner

Avatar DessertStorms

Climate change can only be solved by abolishing capitalism.


I don't think it's reasonable to be this extremist, there are other ways to solve climate change. But since we're already trying to fix it getting rid of capitalism would be the best way because we wouldn't be fixing just the climate issue, we'd also be fixing a whole slew of other issues that are just next in line after the climate issue.


you could tax at over 100% and it couldn't compensate.

certain people need to be lined up against a wall and I'm sure there are people in their circles that are underpaid enough to make it happen

crispy_kilt , edited

No problem, we can tax it at 20'000 % or whatever is the correct amount.

It will then turn out to be completely uneconomical to use fossil fuels at their true price, as it should've been.

Same goes for wasting freshwater and waterways/groundwater pollution. The tax needs to reflect the damage.

Market mechanisms will still work, we just need to prevent companies from externalising the cost of the damage they are causing.


It will then turn out to be completely uneconomical to use fossil fuels at their true price, as it should’ve been.

Renewables are ALREADY out-competing fossils joule for joule and learning curves are only making that delta bigger over time. The US has seen a spate of utilities buying up coal power plants just to shut them down because it is so uneconomical to operate them, yet still we have politicians vowing to support coal just because they like it / to own the libs.

The issue is that there are people who want to use fossil fuels. Many nations' entire economies depend on it. So they'll keep doing it. They'll sell and use the fuels in places that don't tax them, if they have to. They'll literally build demand. They'll push to get every molecule out of the ground and sold, even as returns diminish.

Not to even get into the conservative lunatics who want to keep using them on principle, even knowing they are an economically bad deal.

Even if you could get a carbon tax passed in the US (which is a giant, giant, giant "fat chance"), it'll have more leakage than the tattered Depends worn by all of our politicians.

Meanwhile, like with any tariff, the people hurt most by this carbon tax won't be the producers. Saudi Arabia is not going to agree to pay our taxes. Instead, it'll be the end consumers. Regressively, with the poorest and most vulnerable consumers who cannot afford to immediately electrify hurt the worst.

The philosophy of the IRA is the way to win this fight. Invest, incentivize, and do it progressively. Building a constituency all the way.

Avatar Kissaki






Now let's talk about the blame-shifting campaign behind "vampire power", as if your coffee maker or tv using .5 watt on standby is going to make such a big difference that we need changes to its design.


To be fair, some devices sit there drawing a lot of power. I saw close to 50w while my (mostly sourced from Goodwill) AV setup was plugged in and "off" and quickly started turning off the power strip they were all plugged into after seeing that


Same. I’ve got a TV in my basement. It’s got my 5.1 receiver and speakers and stuff on it. Not a great system, by any stretch (I’m sure my 3.1 soundbar is actually much better for most use and especially my living room layout), but it’s there.

We don’t use it very much. One day I went down there and the receiver was hot to the touch. Apparently someone had left it on. I’m not really sure what it was doing to make that much heat, but we all know that heat is a waste product for electronics.

Immediately put a smart power strip on that sucker.

Also got one on my desk. I keep a bunch of laptops at-the-ready for work (one daily-driver and 4 test systems), on USB-C docking stations and a KVM. Used to be I heard the fans on those docks spinning all the time, and my office was much warmer. Not so much anymore.


My old ISP-supplied cable box/DVR would be pretty toasty when it was on standby. That thing was vampire for sure.
Now, my phone charger, not so much.


Vampire power used to be a big deal. If you have any old time power supplies that feel solid and heavy, they’re analog, transformers, and used significantly more power. While it was little compared to the appliance, it would always draw power and that adds up as we got more devices.


And landfill the old ones, of course.


But Taylor Swift's jet?


Yep. Most of the green push is propaganda to shift blame from oil companies who produce the vast majority of greenhouse gases.


As John Oliver does a great job of pointing out what “carbon offsets” really mean here https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6p8zAbFKpW0