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Warm Futures

Kim Stanley Robinson Makes the Case for Counting Your Carbon

Driving rapid change requires a basic change in attitude—and enough personal action to make new behaviors feel normal.

Photographer: Illustration: Viktor Hachmang for Bloomberg Green

We can all burn less carbon than we do. This sentiment is strictly true, even though it happens to be far truer for some than for others.

People who live in the US, for example, burn on average around 30 times as much carbon as the least prosperous citizens of India. So substantial changes in American lifestyles have a disproportionate effect on the global carbon budget, a term for what we can still afford to burn before crossing the warming thresholds every nation in the world has pledged to avoid.