After getting the two research papers (1) that came from it through peer review, I updated the research notes page they came from, How to understand your Dollarshadow
The reality is that every dollar is, on average, responsible for 1 equal share of the wealth and consequences of the whole world economy. So earning or spending a dollar earns you a share of all the accumulating consequences for the earth that use of the economy causes.
That turns out to be much less “hyperbole” and more an “accurate measurement”, than we are normally aware of. There are some very simple statistical reasons, having to do with world GDP/person being the world average consumption of all people.
an $8 glass of wine, also actually buys you 8 pounds of CO2
The data and calculations are quite clearly illustrated on the Dollarshadow page now. You might find it a little extreme, that every $8 glass of wine or other consumption, unexpectedly, also buys you an added 8 pounds of CO2, to stay in the atmosphere for a couple hundred years. It would be a quite natural reaction.
That is a true measure of the scale of direct impacts of the economy that we’ve been missing.
Just ask yourself, is there much of a chance that your impacts of using money could be a “very special case” and “far below average”. How many special cases can there be of equal shares having way below average responsibility for the total? that’s the rub! To reduce it to two examples, the important observations seem to be:
Impact of normal spending
A dollar spent is like a receipt for one average share of the use of the world economy. As a measure of energy use it’s quite accurate, on average, and makes spending or earning a dollar responsible for one equal share of all the impacts of energy use too. You can appreciate the meaning of “average share” using it to measure how much CO2 (your carbon footprint) is created with normal expenses. Try to compare the benefits and the costs with these two examples.
In 2008 the world average CO2/$ was ~16oz (1 pound) for every dollar of end products purchased (World GDP).
1. a 16oz soda for $1.50, as average spending, would put ~24oz of CO2 into the atmosphere using conventional energy sources. To use solar energy it would take the rental of a 2000sf solar farm for a day to generate the same energy with PV.
2. a 6oz glass of wine costing $6 would produce 6lb of CO2, 16 times the weight of the drink, using conventional energy sources, or take the rental of a 7,800 sf solar farm for the day to get the same energy from PV
The important trends
Figure 1. and Table 3. show the details of our historic ever growing energy use and how production efficiency completely counteracts consumer efficiency in the process. The equally important note may be:
*** For climate change the key observation is that steadily improving producer efficiency completely overcomes consumer efficiency, to continually multiply energy use, it also does NOT change the share of fossil fuel used to produce energy at all, as reflected in the near constant CO2/Btu ratio…
1) How to correct the measure of business impacts System Energy Assessment (SEA)
2) Our miscalculated effects of efficiency The curious use of Stimulus for Constraint