I passed a bus earlier today shrink-wrapped with a National Grid advertisement boasting that “by running on natural gas, this bus saves 54 tons of carbon from the environment.”

To which I say: what’s so undesirable about the Earth’s second most abundant element by weight? The sole component of graphite and diamond? The key to turning ordinary iron into steel, which brought forth the Industrial Revolution? The basis of organic chemistry? The chemical basis for all known life?

Maybe they meant “carbon dioxide.”

While we’re on the subject, we need to immediately stop the spread of the vogue term “carbon footprint” before it takes over the world. Its brevity makes it a poor choice for explaining how global warming works. It also recalls other irritatingly bad abbreviations of this decade, such as the use of “terror” to mean “terrorism.”