Would you consider doing a report on the carbonated beverage industry and its impact on global warming?

BY Paul Solman  June 10, 2008 at 3:02 PM EST

Question/Comment: Much has been said about the potential costs to the oil and auto industries regarding global warming/CO2 greenhouse gas tailpipe and smokestack emissions. Perhaps overlooked is the detrimental effects the carbonated beverage industries would suffer, if the people concerned with human-caused global warming pursue that angle. Remember, the CO2 in carbonated drinks is there unnaturally, captured from other manufacturing processes or extracted from wells – not tremendously different from drilling and refining fossil fuels if you want to get technical about it. It seems unlikely that those who want “green” industry processing and “green” purchasing habits will ultimately differentiate one source of CO2 from another since neither happen without human intervention and both generate the identical CO2 chemical compounds. How about doing a report on the subject?

You could examine in-depth the beverage industries’ reactions, and what would happen if they took a hard line of opposition inspired by the so-called global warming denier S. Fred Singer who has infamously taken the position that CO2 is not a pollutant.

Paul Solman: Another fascinating story idea that, given the current budget crunch at the NewsHour, we may not have the resources to pursue.

Out of curiosity, I did some research and the carbonated beverage issue doesn’t seem to be so much a question of CO2 in the can (or pint) — an ounce or two at most – as, perhaps, like so many other products, in the packaging and transportation. Moreover, much of the CO2 in the carbonation process comes from sources – such as petroleum distillation, it seems – where the gas would be released in any case.

I found one witty rumination worth recycling, from a Web site called EcoGeek.org. You buy soda (or prosecco) and simply never open it, thus sequestering the CO2 in your own home (or garage). I dare not vouch for the accuracy of the following numbers but it’s the thought that counts. “Can a person go completely carbon neutral by purchasing soda and not opening it? Average person produces 9 tons of CO2 per year. Average liter of Coke contains 6 g of CO2. Bulk 2 liter bottle of Coke 79 cents. That’s all our data. 6 grams of CO2 per liter x 2 liters per bottle / 1000 g per kg / 978 kg per ton = 0.000012 tons of CO2 per bottle. 9 tons per person / 0.000012 tons per bottle x 0.79 dollars per bottle= $590,000 dollars per person per year to go carbon neutral by buying Coca Cola.”