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Going Green: Carbon, Complications and Confusion

Going Green: Carbon, Complications and Confusion

Appreciated as efforts to makes us environmentally conscious are, repeatedly shocking us with complicated calculations may just deaden our sensitivity to the issues, says Eva Fernades


November 7, 2010 3:24 by

As The National rightfully pointed out this means that changes like Dubai’s Metro and the construction (delayed though it may be) of Abu Dhabi’s green city Masdar aren’t considered in the report – because the report is based on 2007 findings. 2007, do we really need to remember, was nearing the height of the boom – with promises of towers, trains, theme parks and more fresh on the tongues of property developers. Yet now, as reports emerge of more and more companies suing developers who have stopped building, we can predict one upside of the economic downturn is the brief respite it offers the environment.

But this poses yet another question: Is it possible to develop a country at a cost-effective rate and still keep its carbon footprint low? I am no environment expert, but my hunch is it’s not possible. Given these circumstances, then, is it really fair to compare countries’ carbon footprints? The construction of the Dubai Metro, for instance, was a five-year project that still hasn’t reached completion. The project is surely one of the culprits behind the UAE’s unfashionably large footprint. Yet, this is an expense that countries with century-old underground networks would definitely not have to incur. Should newer nations be told: ‘You didn’t get in on the industrial revolution so just remain in your tents’?

This is what the WWF has to say in its report:

“Moreover, several countries with a high level of development have a similar per-person footprint to countries with a much lower level of development. Together with the breakdown in connection between wealth and well being above a certain level of GDP per capita this indicates that a high level of consumption is not necessarily required for a high level of development or well-being.”

For fear of being repetitive, what? Does that mean that because the countries with ‘a high level of development’ already developed their infrastructure years (with much damage to the environment, not to mention humanity) and so don’t need to now, the WWF concludes that a high level of consumption is not ‘necessarily required for a high level of development’? This kind of inconsistency makes the report contentious for me.

Appreciated as efforts to makes us environmentally conscious are, repeatedly shocking us with semi-arbitrary numbers that are just so hard to figure out may just result in deadening our sensitivity to the issue. With situations like this, perhaps the best instruction to those with a scientifically disinclined mind might be simply, ‘Reduce Carbon Footprint.’

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