Bev, a stern-looking man with white hair, is an environmental protection officer. By day, he works with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency to, well, protect the environment. So, you'd think his carbon emissions would be relatively low.
But, Bev spends much of his free time riding motorcycles. While the little vehicles aren't exactly 18-wheelers, zipping around in one of his four bikes puts Bev's carbon footprint at around 17.2 tons of CO2e per year -- just under the average-sized footprint for an American, but above the average 9.7 for a U.K. citizen like Bev.
Bev's "number" was determined by photographer Neil Baird, who has been cataloging carbon emissions for myriad British citizens. Though many of the subjects of Baird's resulting photos series had relatively low carbon footprints -- Annie, a student, was well below the national average; while Mike, a retired gardener, emits around an average amount of carbon -- many didn't know anything about their own CO2e output until they were approached by Baird.
"I was surprised that most people did not know what their national average and global averages are, and where they might be placed against the average," Baird said in an interview with The Huffington Post. "I was also surprised that although most people expressed concern about climate change, many were not making personal choices that could reduce their own footprints."
"Last year after reading Naomi Klein’s book This Changes Everything, I began talking to people about climate change and realized that the enormity of the subject along with a general lack of basic understanding of the science and the issues involved was preventing ordinary people from understanding the part they play, or that we play as a society," Baird said.
In the below photo essay, Baird captures the lifestyles of a range of subjects, with an equally broad spectrum of environmental habits. One subject, Roger, lives in an "ecovillage," in a house he built himself out of a giant whiskey barrel. Of course, such a conscientious choice can't be afforded by all of us; Roger's emissions are one-sixth the amount of Katie's, who runs a small importing business.
Below, you can compare your own lifestyle choices and carbon footprints with a handful of environmentalists and average citizens across the Atlantic.
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