The Need for a Personal Carbon Cap

Here in the Comox Valley, on Vancouver Island, BC, we are very lucky.  We have the Salish Sea, beautiful forests, an abundance of lakes, and above all that, an extensive alpine environment with a wealth of glaciers, which, sadly, are receding fast — depriving us of a valuable water resource.  The largest of these glaciers, the Comox Glacier, is an icon in the valley, and dominates the landscape here, but it is quickly disappearing due to climate change.

Those of you following the twitter account of Greta Thunberg, the 16 year old climate


activist, would notice she has been invited to various places around the planet.  Her defiant answer forcefully impressed on me the problem at hand.  “….. sadly, our remaining carbon budget won’t allow any such travels, adult generations in countries like mine have used up our resources.”  Greta has come to the conclusion that adult generations have stolen her future.  She is absolutely correct.  There is no possibility we are going to address the problem of climate change unless we totally revolutionize our entire way of doing things.

US Senator Bernie Sanders has said; “We must look at climate change as if it were a devastating military attack …..”  Sanders is right.  We are already at war, but this war is not against Hitler or the Kaiser.  The war is against ourselves.  During World War II, the citizenry in the Allied countries had to ration almost everything, from butter to gasoline, and the entire population, rich or poor, had to obey the rationing laws.

Every person on the planet has a carbon footprint, and can make that footprint smaller.  We are going to have to ration carbon by way of a Personal Carbon Cap, or PCC.  Of course, the size of this number cannot be figured out by politicians.  I suggest a respected scientific body, such as NASA or NOAA calculate the PCC.  Just like a speed limit on the highway, everyone will have to obey that number.

Who knows, the number might be large enough to take that trip to Hawaii, but only if you skip the dairy and the meat, and maybe put up solar panels to heat and power the house — but that number gets smaller and smaller, the longer we wait.

The PCC will not work unless everybody on the planet has the same number.  It won’t do any good if most of us participate while the wealthy still fly private planes, sail super yachts, and use up the carbon the rest of us are saving.  No exemptions.

Facebook comments

John Partyka

A PCC is a great idea. Unless we all reduce our consumption soon, nature will reduce our population. There is no magic bullet. Technology can help but a massive change in lifestyle expectations and global economic values are essential to human survival on earth.

Megan Ardyche

What a great letter, Mr. Fern! Thank you.
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