As campaign 2016 rolls out here’s an idea for the “tough-on-crime” cabal--letting people out of prison will have a negative impact on global warning. Oh, but there is a problem--many of those who are “tough-on-crime” don’t believe in global warning.
According to the New York Times, a recent study published in The Journal of Industrial Ecology, researchers at the Center for Environmental Strategy at the University of Surrey in England estimated the annual carbon footprint of crime in England and Wales, and found that reducing crime could actually cause society’s overall carbon footprint of society to increase.
The findings illustrated the rebound effect, which describes how reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases in one area can lead to more emissions in the aggregate, because of direct or indirect effects. It’s something that policy makers have often been encouraged to consider when they set out to reduce emissions.
Crime is one example where a rebound in carbon emissions could be an issue, according to this study. While there is an energy cost to operating prisons, the study notes, inmates generally consume less than an average citizen in the country, so fewer prisoners might mean higher overall energy consumption.
Additionally, the money saved from reducing crime would go into the government’s budget and people’s pockets. All that money could be spent in other ways — infrastructure, buildings or goods — that may require more energy to produce or operate, possibly adding more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.
Although there is a lot of uncertainty in calculating the rebound effect, the researchers tried to quantify the consequences of reducing domestic burglary by about 5 percent, and determined a rebound effect of 2 percent. That may sound small, but it would mean a growth in society’s overall carbon footprint equivalent to about 10,000 tons of carbon dioxide, which is similar to the annual emissions of about 2,250 households in the Britain.
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