Environmental zealotry surrounding climate change and carbon footprints constantly reminds us of the difference between, or perhaps the mutually exclusivity of, book smarts and common sense. When it comes to academia’s rapture with environmentalism, all too often the presence of book smarts inevitably means the absence of common sense.
We were served up another helping of this phenomenon when Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) issued a report last year assessing the carbon footprint of food consumption in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. Not surprisingly, the CMU team concluded that the region’s food consumption carries a massive carbon footprint.
Local media and academia, densely populated with self-proclaimed enlightened eco-warriors, found the report’s conclusions shocking. Yet normal folks in western Pennsylvania upon hearing of the conclusions shrugged their shoulders and replied with a, “well, yeah.”
The Report’s Findings
The CMU team did a nice job itemizing the carbon footprint for each step of the food distribution supply chain: production, packaging, transportation, refrigeration, and even landfilling of waste. When you add up the greenhouse gas emissions on a carbon dioxide-equivalent basis for each link of the food supply chain, the total is quite large.
That footprint is 3.7 million tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent for Allegheny County, to be exact. Pittsburgh’s home county stamps a bigger carbon footprint for its food consumption than the yearly emissions from the generation of electricity needed to power every household in the county. Yep, that’s right: the greater Pittsburgh area’s food consumption emits more carbon dioxide-equivalent than fossil fuel used to power our homes.
The county’s food system carbon footprint works out to 3.1 tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent per person. That is the same footprint as each person driving a car 7,600 miles. Turns out what we all knew – every single person who enjoys a high standard of living is guilty of a massive carbon footprint.
The study tagged two food types as particularly egregious when it comes to carbon footprint: beer and beef. These two bad boys seem to be the food equivalents of oil sands in energy production and private jet travel in transportation.
Refrigeration of food was one of the biggest logistical contributors to the food supply chain carbon footprint. Meaning ice cream is a menace of carbon excess on par with mc-mansions in housing.
Call to Action!
Knowledge is power. Something must be done before it’s too late. Get John Kerry here now – fire up his private jet. Now that Allegheny County’s politicians, bureaucrats, and academics are enlightened with the CMU study findings, we should expect the following:
- Pittsburgh City Council banned fracking within city limits a few years back and received a standing ovation. Council sees climate change as a much bigger threat to the Steel City than the city’s broken finances, undrinkable public water, the pandemic, a public school system that can’t teach kids basic skills, dying small businesses felled by the government-mandated shutdown, and infrastructure so broken that downtown streets collapse in the middle of rush hour and swallow buses. So, the illuminated council sages should now vote unanimously to permanently close, right after council allows them to reopen at normal capacity, all restaurants being tone-deaf enough to serve hamburger or steak.
- The NHL has trumpeted its commitment to fight climate change, fearing the disappearance of pond ice that will kill the game. Effective immediately…no wait, effective once fans are allowed to attend games again…beer sales in all hockey arenas (including ours) will be banned. While the NHL is at it, why not stop selling all cold drinks and offer only free water at fountains in the concourses, but only if you bring your own reusable cup?
- Students at regional universities have held sit-ins and protests to demand their school endowments divest of fossil fuel investments, in the name of socially conscious investing driving the rescue of our planet from climate change doom. Let’s get these eco-warrior, brittle future leaders to immediately commit to cutting their personal caloric intake by 50% for the rest of their carbon-consuming, guilt-ridden lives. A commitment to do so must be accompanied by a daily reporting surveillance app so that the interests of transparency are served, and new bureaucracy can be created to manage the caloric reporting.
- Those same universities have signed carbon reduction pledges. Now that we know eating is an environmental sin, should we not expect higher education administrators to demand faculty sign a legally-binding commitment that the professor will not engage in the consumption of beef or beer and will hold daily caloric intake to under 1,500? In the event a faculty member is found to have violated the agreement (say, by eating meatloaf or being seen in a bar), immediate contact tracing should be employed to catch other faculty who witnessed the transgression and did not report it. Breach of contract results in revoking of tenure for the repulsive gastronome.
- The big grocery chains in Allegheny County publicly trumpet their commitment to fight climate change on their websites and in press releases. Thus, with the CMU study results now out for all to see, we should expect each of these big chains to immediately stop the sale of that weapon of climate mass destruction: ice cream. We might also expect them to cease selling all refrigerated foods and offer only foodstuffs that don’t require climate control. I knew spam was making a comeback!
- Both county and city government (yes, here in western Pennsylvania we seem to need redundant bureaucracy to protect us from ourselves, so we are told by the elite) follow the inane herd of the coasts and broadcast their resolute commitment to net zero carbon activity by some date in the far future using the cloudy math of net offsets. Therefore, we should see soon a joint resolution where all Pittsburgh and Allegheny County government offices, buildings, and facilities will immediately ban all refrigerators, cafeterias (to deter workers from eating), and vending machines that peddle cold drinks.
- Various banks disclose commitments to stop lending to the villains of climate change, including energy companies. Now that we know the insidious danger of farming, let’s ask these financial institutions to immediately shut off capital flows to farmers, the chemical industry (makers of fertilizers), and restaurants. If some of us starve to death, at least it will be in the name of the war to restore nature.
- Celebrities love to cloak themselves in a woke wrapping of virtue-signaling in public (while they practice the opposite behind gated compounds in private). With CMU outing the harm being done to the ice caps by the midwestern family farm, we should expect Farm Aid to be canceled and replaced with high-profile sit-ins of county fairs across the nation’s breadbasket.
What This Means for Normal People
For those of us who don’t have the luxury of living in the cozy bubbles of elite academia, nonaccountable government, or ideologically rigid foundations, the CMU study comes as no surprise. Common sense informs the common person that carbon is a necessary and fundamental component to a good quality of life.
That holds for reliable and affordable energy, a strong job market, flexible transportation modes, and cutting-edge health care. CMU went through a lot of trouble to tell us something we already knew: that our accessible and diet-diverse food supply chain that improves our quality of life rests on the back of carbon, too.
Embrace carbon and know the reality: to be anti-carbon is to be anti-human. When the arrogant look to dictate your lifestyle options under the camouflage of saving us from climate, clap right back at them with your Klondike ice cream bar.
Think I’ll have an Iron City out of the fridge and a burger cooked with natural gas for dinner.