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What difference does one tonne make?

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We hear every day about the huge quantities of greenhouse gases being added to the atmosphere and how these emissions have to be reduced rapidly if disaster is to be averted. And we are often exhorted to reduce our own carbon emissions. Yet our individual actions seem trivial in comparison to the global scale of the problem, and it’s tempting to leave the climate crisis to others to sort out, to despair about it, or simply to switch off. But what if there was a way to estimate, even very roughly, the likely impact in terms of human wellbeing of one person’s choice to do, or not do, something that would generate one tonne of CO2 emissions? We regularly make such choices, but does one extra tonne matter a lot, a little, or not at all? This talk, offered on a day when thousands of school children are going on strike for a safe climate, will present the results of an informal, one-man research project that has involved the reuse and recycling of the backs of multiple envelopes.

This talk is part of the Microsoft Research Cambridge, public talks series.

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