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Sierra Daily

Nov 14, 2011

What A Drag It Isn’t Growing Old

Ag-articleInlineGood news, Mick Jagger! (And just in the nick of time, as we head into the Rolling Stones’ 50th anniversary year!) According to a study by the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany, individual carbon footprints diminish with age. So if you're an aging enviro, there's no need to stress out and go running for the shelter of your mother's little helper.

Writes the New York Times Green blog: “On the whole, emissions steadily increase from age 10 to around 60 and then abruptly begin to decline. In other words, most Americans hit their carbon-producing peak — about 14.9 metric tons per person — just before retirement. By the time they hit 80, however, their emissions have dropped to about 13.1 metric tons.”

The news is more than “Did you know?” cocktail-party fodder: It turns out that most climate projections take into account population growth but not age distribution. “Given shifts in longevity in the United States and across the globe, age could be a critical factor in such predictions,” adds the Times. “The average life expectancy in the United States is expected to increase from 78.3 years today to 83.1 in 2050, for example, and the worldwide population of those 65 and over is expected to rise from 8 percent now to 13 percent by 2030.”

Rockin' elders are still trumped by hipsters, though. Your average 25-year-old generates just below 10 metric tons of carbon emissions.

-- Reed McManus

Image: Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock (MPIDR), Emilio Zagheni

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