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The Though Kitchen - Dedicated to Stirring the Pot

Cutting Through the Crap

Posted by admin | January 10th, 2008 | Filed under Positive Change, Sustainability

Zoetic_jpg.jpgI recently spoke with Zoe Cameron, who hails from Toronto but is currently living in London. She works as an award-wining freelance journalist specializing in science, environmental, and health-related stories.

When I went to check out her blog Zoetic I found the following post pertaining to the United Nations Development Programme report: “Fighting Climate Change: Human Solidarity in a Divided World.”

Zoe contends that “there’s no better way to cut through the crap and get right to the point than with some simple statistics.” So here are some interesting numbers from the report:

  • Number of Earths required for everyone on earth to have the carbon footprint of the average Canadian: 9
  • 19 million people living in New York State have the same carbon footprint as 766 million people living in the world’s 50 poorest countries.
  • Global average temperature rise we must keep within: 2C
  • Level of ambient carbon dioxide we must keep within to stay under 2C: 450pp
  • Amount developed countries need to cut carbon emissions: 80% by 2050
  • Amount developing countries need to cut carbon emissions by 2050: 20%
  • Therefore, amount the world needs to cut carbon emissions by 2050: 50%
  • Amount required to reach this goal: £800 billion/year
  • What is £800 billion? Just 1.6% of our global GDP

There you have it. Just 1.6% of our global GDP. Would that seriously be so difficult? But there’s one statistic that, to me, is more revealing than anything else:

£800 billion is just two-thirds the amount we spend globally on weapons every year.

There isn’t anything else I need to say.

5 Responses to “Cutting Through the Crap”

  • January 10, 2008 at 8:31 pm | charlie says

    We should spend wisely and thoughtfully, but the world is still a dangerous place.


  • January 11, 2008 at 10:09 am | Maggie says

    I don’t have anything that insightful to say …but I must declare these statistics really break down what changes need to be made and simplfy a goal to keep our eye on! THanks Ian..Bless,M

  • January 12, 2008 at 1:19 pm | Darius Contractor says

    I think these stats are awesome, it really helps to know how far away the finish line is when you ask people to start running hard for it.

    I agree 1.6% is doable, but it is still a lot. That’s 2/3 of our weapons gone (which I agree would be great, but not everyone would), or massive cut backs to goverment programs, etc. Also, that’s 1.6% of the worlds GDP, but there is no global goverment to ratify it.

    I guess we all know change starts with people and convincing people of the fact that these goals are necessary and achieveable is the first step. Then, hopefully, we can elect leaders who start to move toward these goals.

    So in as much as this is a plan to educate people, I am 100% behind it. I still have to take issue with ending the thought with “There isn’t anything else I need to say” as I think that assumes all people have the same priorities. Most people just want to make sure the people they care about are secure and have some happiness from time to time. If that’s at the expense of the planet’s long term future, so be it.

    I think the sea-change that needs to happen is we need to go from caring about the planet being something people with a lot of time/energy for it do to something everyone does, even those with no time. I think it’s starting with whole foods becoming more popular and eco issues in national politics, but I agree we have a long way to go.

    Not sure you accept comments this long but here you go. :)

    one day at a time,

  • January 12, 2008 at 7:19 pm | John says


    Your spending on weapon statistic illuminates. Yes, the world is a dangerous place, but I don’t see weapons as a solution to make it less dangerous. Weapons cause incredible destruction. I don’t have any statistic to give, but think about the money spent rebuilding destruction caused by weapons. Both physical infrastructure and human lives.


  • January 13, 2008 at 10:26 am | Ian says


    Good call regarding the ending thought. You are right, clearly not everyone has the same priorities. I find myself reflecting on my own “theory of change.” How does change, in this case massive systemic change, happen?

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