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To Fight Global Warming We Must Tax All Recreational Exercise

Beverley 10k 2008Steve Levitt is the author of Freakonomics a perennial bestseller which looks for unexpected consequences or outcomes of economic (and other) reports and encourages you to think about everyday things more critically and not just accept the conventional wisdom.  Remember, statistics are your friend, you can make them do anything you want.  He writes on his New York Times Blog:

A recent Lancet article argued that obesity is contributing to global warming because the obese consume more calories.

Since making food releases carbon, that means an obese person, on average, is worse for global warming than a skinny person.

But he than turns it around based on some back of the envelope calculations.

But as long as we are having the conversation, if we want to blame the obese for global warming, those who engage in recreational exercise like jogging or biking for pleasure should surely be discouraged from doing so because of global warming.

Someone who jogs an hour per day burns an extra 1,000 calories daily … far more than an obese person. Such wasteful burning of calories must be discouraged if we are to save the planet.

I hereby call for the next president of the United States to pass legislation imposing a carbon tax of 10 cents per hour on all recreational burning of calories. To save the planet, we must encourage people to sit at home and burn as few calories as possible.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Foto43