What's The Carbon Footprint of a Heart Bypass? Who Cares.

Image credit: NC Museum of History

Only yesterday I lamented the fact that too many TreeHuggers are overly focused on individual carbon footprints as a metric for success. So what should I make of news from The Guardian that a heart bypass operation carries with it a huge carbon footprint—as much as two short-haul flights? Should we worry that some over zealous greenies will advocate forgoing life saving surgery in the name of stopping climate change? To be fair, the article on the carbon footprint of a heart bypass operation in no way suggests that folks should avoid having critical health care. But it does map out the emissions involved in health care as a whole, and suggest that we can do our part by staying healthy.

A cynic (or a troll) would argue, of course, that the healthier we are, the longer we live. And the longer we live, the more we pollute. So maybe we should all aim to live fast and die young after all. Just as long as we compost our corpses when we are done.

Seriously though. While the carbon footprint of a heart bypass operation might be interesting, in a geeky sort of way. I can't help but feel that this is just one more illustration of why we need to focus on collective action not individual impact if we are going to get out of the mess we are in.

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