The dumb use of factoids
A rather rude and perhaps typically ignorant petrolhead made it on to the BBC Today programme this morning to talk about possible rises in fuel duty. The lad wanted a reduction of 3p, and naturally felt that motorists get the blame for too much these days. In support of his argument he cited the factoid that the UK is only responsible for 1% of global carbon dioxide emissions. This kind of factoid is used in all sorts of debates, not least by the aviation sector, which claims to be ‘only’ responsible for 2% of CO2 emissions. But the stupidity of this style of defence is plain for all to see—or at least those who want to see. For a start, we’re only 0.8% of the world’s population, so we’re already using more than our fair share; but the factoid almost certainly won’t take account of imported, embedded CO2 emissions (e.g. on goods from China or the US) which would double our tally. Then, if those countries which could say ‘we’re only responsible for 1%’ were tallied up, we would soon overtake the country emissions of China and the US. I wonder if 66 million Chinese are responsible for the same level of emissions as we 66 million Brits? I very much doubt it. And the Chinese have a point when they ask on whose tally should embedded emissions be counted? It’s been a sticking point.
It would be nice to think that that royal petrolhead, Prince Charles could put his fellow numpties straight—he has some environmental cred hasn’t he? But perhaps not. In today’s Guardian he is photographed admiring the new Aston Martin DBX, the firm’s first SUV, priced at £158,000 and which the company hopes ‘will widen the brand’s appeal to women.’ The car looks typically and unnecessarily massive, but if you have £158,000 to waste and your parking skills are up to scratch, who cares?
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