Regular readers will know that I’m deeply worried about global warming, and that I lie awake at night, tossing and turning, wondering how to stop it. An article I read a couple of days back may have provided the much-needed clue, although not in quite the way they were suggesting.
Researchers Suggest Link Between Obesity & Global Warming
Researchers at the Robert Gordon University have completed a study that addresses the link between climate change and obesity.
The academics suggest that global weight loss would result in a drop in the production of the major greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide (CO(2)).
It suggests that if every obese and overweight person in the world lost 10 kilograms (or 1.58 stone), the resulting drop in greenhouse emissions would be the equivalent of 0.2% of the CO(2) emitted globally in 2007 (49.560Mt)…
Dr Catherine Rolland was one of the lead researchers on the study. She explains: “This decrease can be explained by the principles of respiration – the process by which organisms breathe in oxygen, which is then converted to CO(2) and then exhaled.
“CO(2) production is proportionate to body mass and heavier individuals naturally produce more than those of a healthier weight. The global obesity epidemic, therefore, has resulted in humans producing a higher volume of a major greenhouse gas.”
This set me thinking. The fat guys would have to work out in gyms to shed those 10 kg of fat. I wondered what the difference in metabolic rate was between someone of ordinary weight, and a fat guy 10 kg heavier.
I found an online Basal Metabolic Rate calculator and asked what the BMR of a 170 pound, 5′ 10″ high, 30-year-old male would be, and was told it 1810 kcalories/day (about 87 watts). Actual metabolic rate is higher than basal metabolic rate, and BMR needs to be multiplied by 1.2 for a lifestyle with little or no exercise, and by 1.9 for a lifestyle with a couple of intensive work-outs every day. Opting for the life with little exercise, that gave a metabolic rate of 104 watts.
I then asked what the BMR of the same guy, but 22 pounds heavier, would be, and was told it was 1947 kcals/day (93 watts). Multiplying that by 1.2 for little or no exercise gave a figure of 112 watts.
So the fat guy was burning about 8 watts more than the regular guy, all of it appearing as extra CO2. And adding all the fat guys in the world together, that translated into nearly into nearly 50 million mega-tonnes of CO2, according to the university boffins.
So, sure, it looks like there’s quite a saving to be made.
I then wondered what the ‘carbon footprint’ of a regular healthy-sized guy would be if he worked out twice a day in a gym like super-fit healthy guys do. Well, we know that the BMR of the regular guy is 87 watts, and we know that this needs to be multiplied by 1.9 to give his actual metabolic rate. And that’s 165 watts. Which is 61 watts more than if he’d done little or no exercise.
And since we know that that 8 extra watts from all the fat guys in the world translates into 50 Mt of CO2, then 61 extra watts translates into a stunning 380 Mt of CO2.
So all this working out, jogging, cycling, and so on vastly increases CO2 output. If we really want to save the planet, we ought to close all the gyms, ban jogging and cycling, forbid school sports, and also ban all energetic professional sports. Oh, and cancel the London Olympics next year. The only sports permitted should be things like golf, snooker, and darts. It’s not the fat guys who are filling the atmosphere with clouds of CO2: it’s the healthy energetic ones, running around all the time.
But it goes deeper.
Body fat is a store of energy, and consists of chains of carbon and hydrogen atoms. So fat people store (the fancy word is ‘sequester’) carbon just like trees do. I began to wonder how many mega-tonnes of CO2 was stored by fat people.
Well, we know that the fat guys have 22 pounds (10 kg) of fat on them, and we discover that the calorific value of fat is 37.8 kJ/gm. This the amount of energy that would be released by full combustion of the fat, producing lots of CO2 in the process. And 10 kg of fat translates into 378 million Joules of stored energy.
And we already know that all the fat guys in the world, burning energy at an extra 8 watts ( i.e. 8 Joules/sec), produce 50 mega-tonnes of CO2 per year. And burning through 8 watts all day every day for a whole year works out at a bit over 250 million Joules per year. So the fat guys carrying 10 kg of fat, and burning an extra 8 watts while doing so, are carrying as fat 75 Mt of CO2, or 1.5 times their extra annual CO2 emissions.
What happens when all the fat guys go to gyms and start working out, and lose their extra 10 kg of fat in one year? Well, we know that the fat guy’s BMR was 93 watts. So when he starts working out his metabolic rate is 1.9 times this, or 177 watts. Which is 73 watts more than a regular guy doing no exercise. When fat guys start vigorously working out, they use over 9 times as much extra energy than they did when they just slobbed around doing nothing. And instead of producing just 50 Mt of CO2 per year, they produce 450 Mt. And on top of this there an extra 75 Mt which is all the fat they’ve burned off during the year. Total of 525 Mt of CO2.
That’s pretty much a climate catastrophe. It can’t be allowed to happen.
No, the right thing to do is not to get all the fat guys to slim down, but get them to get even fatter. Fat people should be treated exactly the same way as trees. They should be encouraged to grow as big as possible, and to do as little exercise as possible, because fat people are carbon sinks rather than carbon sources. And every year that one of them gains 10 kg in weight, they store 1.5 times as much CO2 as the extra CO2 they emit. In fact more, because metabolic rate isn’t proportional to mass, but to the three-quarter power of mass (Kleiber’s law).
We should convert all the gyms into leisure centres where fat people lie on recliner chairs watching TV all day, and drinking beer and eating huge amounts of burgers and chips and peas and tomato ketchup, and pancakes and syrup, and doughnuts and chocolate chip cookies. And we should fit out all the pubs and restaurants the same way. It should be a non-stop all-day marathon bloatfest.
Of course, we’ll need to denormalise thin, athletic people. And all forms of exercise. We’ll need to run Fat Is Beautiful campaigns, and put forward new standards of physical beauty (see right). And run Eat For Victory ads on TV: “Have you eaten your five portions of chocolate sponge pudding today?” And fill the shops with cream cakes and comfy sofas and TVs. And have Exercise Cessation Counsellors, to wean people off the forms of exercise they’re addicted to.
It will of course help to encourage smoking, in order to keep people calm and relaxed, and thereby expending the minimum of energy.
And this way, maybe, just maybe, after eating heroic amounts of food, and breaking all the obesity records, we will be able to slow the remorseless rise of CO2 in the atmosphere, and finally reverse it, and save the world.