Tons and Tonnes

What’s with these heavy words?

A tonne is a metric ton. Oh great … both words in the same sentence. If you have seen the show Seinfeld, George’s father would be right here with me to yell “Serienity Now“.

Okay. Alright- I know the word metric and the word ton. The metric system is used everywhere except the United States. The word ton is the English word I grew up with and it meant 2000 pounds. The unit pounds is also a United States thing. I think of cars when I hear the word ton. A car is typically a couple tons.

The word ton is also a British word and in the context of a British ton, the weight is 2240 pounds. OMG, lets overuse this word why don’t we.

And now lets talk about the other version of the word, tonne, which is what is referred to as a metric ton which is 2204 pounds or 1000 kilograms. The metric ton is officially spelled tonne. Thank God! Finally some clarity, but for simplicity, lets just keep it all simple. When you read the word tonne or ton or metric ton or British ton, we are talking about a couple thousand pounds for us American folk or about one thousand kilograms for the rest of the world, or half the weight of car.

1 metric ton = 1 Tonne = 1/2 car

Now I’ll try and focus on what I wanted to write about which was my carbon footprint. My carbon footprint is how much carbon dioxide I give off with my daily activities and choices. I think most of us are schooled on these two words now, but here is a good link for a better understanding of carbon footprint.

So with the influx of news on climate change and global warming, we are being told that we need to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. I found a great site which allowed me to calculate my lifetime budget to help toward this goal.

So my lifetime budget for C02 emissions is 1410 tonnes

There is that word … tonnes which I now know is a metric ton or to simplify in my brain, about half the weight of a car. So my budget is 1410 tonnes of CO2 which does not sound so bad, but I have also read an MIT study that says there is this bottom line number we can not go below simply because of the infrastructure of our society. The number is 8.5 tonnes per year.

So I start to do the math and assuming I live to be one hundred years old, that would mean the very smallest footprint is 850 tonnes. So no matter how carbon footprint conscious I am, I’m going to contribute to 850 tonnes of CO2 in my lifetime, unless I live in a teepee and eat wild berries.

Finally the website Our World in Data has an excellent interactive graph to show which countries produce the most CO2 and the United States is sitting in the 15 to 20 tonne range which is higher than my allotment.

Click on the Map to See the Interactive Map

Looks like, we have our work cut out for us, not to mention our children and our grandchildren.

Featured Image Credit


One comment on “Tons and Tonnes”
  1. cpluzc says:

    We have to build CO2-packman’s to Ensure future living 😉


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