In a recent interview, physicist and climate researcher Hans Joachim Schellnhuber told Spiegel Online that the rich world has to do much, much more to curb CO2 emissions. And it must do it now: it will be more far expensive to pick up the pieces later.
Assuming all people are equal, a Bangladeshi has the right to emit the same amount of CO2 as a Norwegian. Then, accepting the target of limiting global warming to 2 degrees centigrade and the scientific consensus on man-made climate change, it's possible to give each inhabitant of Planet Earth a CO2 quota. That quota is 110 tons per person, to be emitted over the next forty years.
Unfortunately, the average German currently emits 11 tons a year. At this rate, Germany's quota could be used up in a decade. People in some other industrialised countries emit even more.
Schellnhuber suggests massive transfer payments from rich, high-emissions countries to developing countries. Think of these as fines. He further suggests the developing countries are then forced to use the money on environmental projects: a good idea, if somewhat high handed and paternalistic.
The real message, however, is that tinkering is not going to save civilisation. Radical lifestyle changes are called for.
So when a blogger calls for an end to EcoElitism because we should applaud every little step that brings us closer to a world in which we all choose small cars, she needs to realise that billions don't drive cars at all. Don't put other people down, right; but don't pat yourself on the back when what you've done amounts to almost nothing.
Elsewhere on the Internet, a list of 50 ways to help the planet includes the idea of e-ticketing when you fly. I hate to point this out, but paper tickets is not the issue about air travel.
As the melting iceberg looms we all have to start somewhere, but let's not start by rearranging the deckchairs.