Don’t trust anyone over 30 (or under 70) when it comes to carbon emissions. According to data from the Max Planck Institute, your individual emissions rise steeply from birth through the early 20s, then keep rising a little less sharply for the next 40 years. Your carbon footprint doesn’t peak until after age 60, at which point you may be responsible for 16,500 tons of CO2 per year. Conclusion: Baby Boomers ruin everything.
For once, then, the question is: how do we make middle-aged people act more like twentysomethings? This data mainly looked at consumption habits, so the answer lies in making them buy less, or buy less energy-intensive goods. (Car ownership made a big contribution, shockingly.) Of course, living in their parents’ basements and not having a job couldn’t hurt.
It’s easier, maybe, to make middle-aged people act more like seniors, since they’ll eventually do that on their own — the fact that our population is slowly aging will probably reduce overall emissions eventually.
How to cut carbon emissions, The Economist.
Get Grist in your inbox