A wish-list from the United Nations climate summit taking place through Dec. 11 in Paris should include the high-tech development of a Personal Carbon Counter that could be worn like a smartwatch to track of all the fossil fuels each person on the planet consumes.
It would matter most in developed nations like the United States, Canada, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Norway, France, Austria, Russia and Germany. But people in China, Japan, Mexico, India, Brazil, New Zealand, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Australia and parts of Africa should wear them, too.
Personal Carbon Counters would relieve countries and industries of the burden of reversing global warming and the costly effects of climate change. It sounds like a Star Wars, sci-fi dream, but if it were possible it would relieve nations and industries of figuring out how they will reduce the amount of planet-warming greenhouse gases that human consumption of fossil fuels creates.
The Personal Carbon Counters using free-market forces will get people to do it themselves. The gadgets would determine an acceptable average daily fossil fuel allotment for individuals.
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People who go over that amount will have to pay for the privilege. That automatic deduction then would go to individuals in developing nations, which they then could use to create more clean water, irrigate farm fields, improve schools and create more green jobs.
Instead of the U.N. climate summit being a hand-ringing, table-pounding time of countries resisting cutbacks in their advanced way of life, it should be a time for collaboration and innovation and dreams of what may be possible because of a new, better way of life that people have forced on themselves.
The Personal Carbon Counters would include fossil fuels used for transportation; clothing; meals; factory, office or other work; church, community and civic functions; TV watching: listening to the radio; using the Internet; volunteer work; water consumption for hygiene or drinking purposes; heating and cooling in homes, vehicles and at work; recreation; vacations; and business travel. You want to make a photocopy? In addition to the cost of the copy, it would also result in a fossil fuel assessment for the electricity, paper and machinery use.
People who use public transportation would have their fossil fuel consumption, according to the vehicle’s miles per gallon measure, divided by the number of riders on each trip. That would pull down those individuals’ total.
Folks who insist on using their own cars or trucks and going solo will see their fossil fuel consumption spike but not as much as people who fly on personal or commercial jets for business or pleasure.
People who have long commutes to and from work will for the first time be more accurately assessed and pay for the damage they do to the environment. People who insist on living in large, energy inefficient homes also will have to pay more for the privilege.
What conservative Republican could argue with such user fees especially if it will end global warming and climate change?
At the same time, folks who invest in solar energy for their homes or businesses will see their fossil fuel consumption fall and have lower Personal Carbon Counter numbers.
Industries that insist on polluting will find that behavior too costly for them to afford to stay in business. New companies will emerge designed to help people reduce their carbon footprint. People and companies that plant trees will enjoy watching their fossil fuel numbers roll in reverse.
Under such a system of carbon counting and assessments, experimental solar airplanes would be developed, taking humankind into a new era of flight. Solar cars also would be mass produced. There would be no fossil fuel assessment on such vehicles except with the purchase price, which would account for the production.
Over time, the temperature of the planet will fall, and the global warming threat to humans and other species will recede. By then, generations from now, people will joke about the U.N. climate summit, humanity’s destructive, wasteful behavior and how things could have gotten so out of hand.