Just how large are Elon Musk and Bill Gates’ carbon footprints? You is likely to be shocked

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Tesla’s Elon Musk and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos have been vying for the world’s richest person ranking all yr after the previous’s wealth soared a staggering US$160 billion in 2020, putting him briefly in the top spot.

Musk isn’t alone in seeing a major enhance in wealth throughout a yr of pandemic, recession, and dying. Altogether, the world’s billionaires saw their wealth surge over $1.9 trillion in 2020, based on Forbes.

Those are astronomical numbers, and it’s arduous to get one’s head round them with out some context. As anthropologists who study power and shopper tradition, we needed to look at how all that wealth translated into consumption and the ensuing carbon footprint.

Walking in a billionaire’s sneakers

We discovered that billionaires have carbon footprints that may be 1000’s of instances larger than these of common Americans.

The rich personal yachts, planes, and a number of mansions, all of which contribute greenhouse gases to the ambiance. For instance, a superyacht with a everlasting crew, helicopter pad, submarines, and swimming pools emits about 7,020 tons of CO2 a yr, based on our calculations, making it by the far worst asset to personal from an environmental standpoint. Transportation and actual property make up the lion’s share of most individuals’s carbon footprint, so we targeted on calculating these classes for every billionaire.