Wednesday, April 23, 2008

RE: burn calories not carbon

Chris Goodall, author of 'How to live a low carbon life', has come to a surprising conclusion about the carbon emissions associated with driving vs. walking: driving may result in fewer emissions!

Assuming that you eat conventionally raised beef to supply the calories you need to walk a given distance, driving a car over that distance actually emits a smaller quantity of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than the beef production, if one includes all the activities associated with beef production. For details, see Goodall's essay here.

So should we all drive more to save the earth?? NO! I fully support walking, biking, skiing, or paddling where one is going. Goodall's conclusion is a critique of the resource-intensity of conventional modern agriculture, particularly beef production, not an indication that driving cars more is a 'green' thing to do. His take-home message is that to meaningfully address climate issues, we need to watch what we eat AND how much we drive.

Also look at Chris Goodall's website,, for many useful resources.

1 comment:

Sara T said...

Stripping human practices down to carbon expenditure is definitely an interesting (and a little bit scary) interpretation. Hopefully, citizens and policy-makers can appreciate that no action occurs in a vacuum.

The amount of resources and energy consumed by gardening, cooking a lovely meal, or traveling to see a concert can be calculated. However we cannot put a number on how much these activities enhance our wellness.

The human race needs not only educated citizens, cooperative governments, and good science to meet the challenges that climate change poses, but a well (healthy, inspired, connected) population.

Luckily, growing a garden and/or supporting local, sustainable agriculture is a win-win. You can have your veggies and eat them too...