Tag Archives: xkcd style graphics

How fat would we have to get to balance carbon emissions?

Let’s consider a ridiculous solution to a real problem. We’re unearthing tons of carbon, burning it, and releasing it into the atmosphere.

Disclaimer: There are several greenhouse gasses, and lots of other things that we’re throwing wantonly into the environment. Considering them makes things incredibly complicated incredibly quickly, so I blithely ignore them in this note.

Such rapid changes have side effects, many of which lead to bad things. That’s why nearly 150 countries ratified the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.1 Even if we assume that all these countries will accomplish what they agreed to (which might be challenging for the US),2

most nations and advocacy groups are focusing on increasing efficiency and reducing emissions. These are good goals! But what about all the carbon that is already in the atmosphere?3

You know what else is a problem? Obesity! How are we to solve all of these problems?

Looking at this (very unscientific) graph,4 we see that the red isn’t keeping up! Maybe we aren’t using the valuable resource of our own bodies enough! Fat has carbon in it — often over 20% by weight. What if we took advantage of our propensity to become propense? How fat would we need to get to balance last year’s carbon emissions?

That’s what we investigate here.


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