Monday, November 26, 2007

Bali Carbon Footprint

The IPCC Conference on Climate Change is taking place this Dec 3-14 in Bali, Indonesia.

The conference will have about 12,000 participants from 189 countries, and since Bali is in the middle of nowhere we can assume that the average participant flies 1/4ths of the Earth's circumference to attend, or about 6,000 miles.

Passenger air travel costs 0.18 kg CO2/passenger-mile, for long-distance flights. Of course, many participants will be taking private jets, which will throw this calculation way off.

So the total carbon emissions for travel to-and-from the conference are 26 MMT CO2 (million metric tons).

The average American emitted 24.1 MT CO2 in 2006, so travel to-and-from the Bali conference is equivalent to 1.1 M American-years of carbon expenditure. Or about what the city of Portland, Oregon spends in two years.

Of course, Americans are energy pigs. Worldwide carbon expenditures in 2006 were roughly 20,000 Tg CO2 (=20,000 MMT CO2), for 6.3 B people. So

Bali carbon expenditure = 8.2 M earthling-years

This is just for travel, and does not include travel on private jets, which is likely to be large.

Per-day costs for food, lodging, etc. are assumed here to be the same, as many of these dignitaries no doubt live the high-life, just as they would in a first-class hotel in Bali.

As some people have said, I'll start thinking global warming is a crisis when the people telling me it's a crisis act like it's a crisis. You have to wonder where the Bali participants are coming from.


Note: Correction here.

68 comments:

Dave Munger said...

How are you getting these numbers? 6000 * 12000 * .18 = 12.96 million kilograms = 12.96 thousand metric tons. You're off by more than three orders of magnitude.

Oyun indir said...

How are you getting these numbers? 6000 * 12000 * .18 = 12.96 million kilograms = 12.96 thousand metric tons. You're off by more than three orders of magnitude.

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Anonymous said...

6000 * 2 * 12000 * 0.18 = 25.92M MT (25.92 million metric tons)

He failed to mention the implicit assumption of round-trip flight.

Anonymous said...

Yes, but he's still wrong by (exactly) three orders of magnitude. That's 26 million *kilograms*, not metric tons. One metric ton = 1000 kilograms.

Sammler said...

Not only is the original post wrong (as already stated) by three orders of magnitude, but the conclusion is obviously false. Consider the things the inhabitants of Portland will do in two years: one of these things is to take far more than 12,000 long-haul commercial flights.

A top-line retraction is in order.

Anonymous said...

> top line retraction

Only if he thinks there's a crisis, and cares about what's happening.

If he's here to poke fun and attract attention to himself, he'll leave it up and enjoy the added attention he gets from being wrong.

Anonymous said...

Aside from the fun with bad math, and the ignorance of the fact that Americans frequently travel by air, there's another point here:

To the extent that this conference leads to changes in carbon release, the changes could easily dwarf the extra amount released by the conference activity itself.

Sort of like spending money on insulating one's house, to save money on heating/cooling costs. Which, in the mind David Appell, doesn't make sense. But don't feel bad; it doesn't make sense in the U Tenn Law School-honed mind of Instapundit, either.

-Barry

Anonymous said...

I think that Barry has a fair point about the conference leading to some sort of greater good, but isn't there some sort of happy medium here? Have the conference, but figure out the most energy efficient location (i.e. the place that will require the fewest number of long-haul flights), and forgo the private jets. Bali has to be one of the least efficient locations for this... but I'm sure the weather's good, as is the golf. That's where the skepticism comes in. Maybe there's a need to make an investment to get long-term savings, but this particular plan is deeply flawed.

Anonymous said...

Further to what Barry said, and contra to other commenters on other threads, the Bali conference is not a zero-sum game. Realistically speaking, it won't lead to positive change, but it will help build incremental pressure towards that goal.

John Paul

Marc said...

When we assign order of magnitude problems to students we expect them to use reality checks to see if the answer makes sense. Having a conference use more carbon than a large city does for 2 years doesn't make sense, and it's obvious why: Appell couldn't distinguish pounds from tons. This isn't just a cheap shot; it's an innumerate cheap shot and it should have been obvious the moment that it was compared with Portland.

It's also less than the carbon footprint of, say, a single football bowl game by the same type of calculation; of order 100,000 people travelling 1,500 miles round trip. Correct this embarassment.

Thos Weatherby said...

All of this "orders of magnitude" doesn't matter. There is no Gullible Warming going on. This is only an attempt to get the US to pay some money. I understand that the total cost of this conference was nearing $48M. If these people really think this is a serious problem, then they should have teleconference the event and really save some carbon. The whole thing is a hoax.

Admin said...

How are you getting these numbers? 6000 * 12000 * .18 = 12.96 million kilograms = 12.96 thousand metric tons. You're off by more than three orders of magnitude.

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Levent said...

6000 * 2 * 12000 * 0.18 = 25.92M MT (25.92 million metric tons)

He failed to mention the implicit assumption of round-trip flight.

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Levent said...

How are you getting these numbers? 6000 * 12000 * .18 = 12.96 million kilograms = 12.96 thousand metric tons. You're off by more than three orders of magnitude.

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kıral oyun said...

Yes, but he's still wrong by (exactly) three orders of magnitude. That's 26 million *kilograms*, not metric tons. One metric ton = 1000 kilograms

oyunla said...

Aside from the fun with bad math, and the ignorance of the fact that Americans frequently travel by air, there's another point here:

To the extent that this conference leads to changes in carbon release, the changes could easily dwarf the extra amount released by the conference activity itself.

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tuzcuoğlu nakliyat said...

6000 * 2 * 12000 * 0.18 = 25.92M MT (25.92 million metric tons)

He failed to mention the implicit assumption of round-trip flight.

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Medyum said...

Not only is the original post wrong (as already stated) by three orders of magnitude, but the conclusion is obviously false. Consider the things the inhabitants of Portland will do in two years: one of these things is to take far more than 12,000 long-haul commercial flights.

Muhabbet Büyüsü said...

How are you getting these numbers? 6000 * 12000 * .18 = 12.96 million kilograms = 12.96 thousand metric tons. You're off by more than three orders of magnitude.

oyun said...

6000 * 12000 * .18 = 12.96 million kilograms = 12.96 thousand metric tons.

sahibinden said...

He failed to mention the implicit assumption of round-trip flight.