Obesity and Global Warming

Global warming is a grand gift to those who long to run the lives of others by expanding the state. The examples are countless, and studies find new correlations between behaviour one suspects they don’t approve of anyway, and global warming.

One example, which Mattias Svensson writes about here (in Swedish), is this study. It essentially claims that fat people are extra bad for the environment. The problem is that they need more energy to do things, and therefore eat more, which causes all sorts of disasters. Steven Levitt, suspecting some silliness in all this, has taken out the calculator. Clearly, if fat people are bad they should be taxed to cover the extra costs they impose. But how high should the taxes be?

According to the Lancet article, the obese consume about 400 extra calories per day. So the appropriate tax on the obese to account for their extra global warming impact would be a little over $1 per month.

He then goes on to point out that someone who goes jogging for an hour a day consumes an extra 1000 calories — much worse than those parked in front of their tellies. Perhaps we should tax gym memberships instead?

The solution, appealing to every politician looking for extra tax money to spend, and to every nanny-state paternalist out there, is obvious. Tax both. After all it’s not really about the results, and global warming policies have never been about the whole picture anyway.

Unfortunately, while it’s fun to joke about these things, too many of the jokes turn into laws and regulations. I am waiting for the global warming tax on tobacco. I’d be surprised if it’s a long wait.


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