Times 150 million!

Times 150 million!

(Come friend Aunt Ruthie on Facebook and let’s hang out.)

Surely, you know all about NIMBY—“not in my backyard.” Applied to any odorous development that’s good for the community, good for the poor, good for the betterment of … whomever, NIMBY is the cry of the self-interested that, in the face of living on a crowded planet, wake up one morning to find something in their neighborhood they’d rather see put … somewhere else.

Certainly, it’s an acronym destined to come back into vogue should nuclear power make a comeback. But these days—more than NIMBY—enviros the world over are more concerned with NIMTTOAGC. Surely you know about that, too?

Unlikely, Aunt Ruth just made it up. It stands for “now it’s my turn to own a goddamned car.” Or, if you prefer your acronyms expletive-free and a little more alliterative, NIMTTOC.

NIMTTOC. It rolls off the tongue. Best pronounced with a slight Chinese or Indian accent, NIMTTOC is the environmental equivalent of karma. The Worldwatch Institute estimates that China—its economic engines revved up and ready to go—will have 150 million cars on its streets by 2015. That’s 18 million more than in the United States at the end of the last century. Given that carbon dioxide is the gas with the most long-term negative impact—according to John Tierney from The New York Times—“because it lingers in the atmosphere much longer than soot or methane, some scientists argue that limiting it must be the first step.”

Maybe not. The journal Science has just published a proposal to slow global warming that de-emphasizes carbon-dioxide reductions in the developing world in favor of 14 other efforts that would limit black carbon and control methane. If widely adopted, its proponents claim it will reduce the amount of global warming in 2050 by 1 degree Fahrenheit.

“This impact on temperatures in 2050 would be significantly larger than the projected impact of the commonly proposed measures for reducing carbon dioxide emissions,” notes Tierney. These measures—which range from cleaner diesel engines to draining rice paddies more often to reduce methane—not only will slow global warming, they will save lives in the very countries being asked to do the work. “If you make black carbon reductions in China or India, you get most of the benefits in China or India,” notes Drew Shindell, lead author of the proposal.

Ask not for whom the bell NIMBYs. Perhaps, just perhaps, it NIMBYs for you.