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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 09-16-06, 11:09 AM   #1
gerv 
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Pounds of pollution

There's an interesting thread in Commuting about Commuting and the Environment
Cycling and the environment

According to the article quoted, "A seven mile commute by bicycle instead of car each day saves almost 9 pounds of hydrocarbons, more than 66 pounds of carbon monoxide, 4.4 pounds of oxides of nitrogen and 1319 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually. If just one out of every 10 commuters who now drive to work switched to bicycling, the savings would amount to 2 billion gallons per year and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 25.4 million tons 8 bicycles can be parked in the space required for just one car"

Is this article correct? That's an awful lot of atmospheric damage. Now I'm quite proud I didn't use the car all week (until this morning, when I drove my bike to the LBS...for repairs.)
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Old 09-16-06, 06:10 PM   #2
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that sounds on the level with numbers i've heard before.
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Old 09-16-06, 06:52 PM   #3
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To put that into perspective, in 2002 transportation was responsible for ~30% of the carbon dioxide emitted, while electricity generation was resposible for ~39%. A switch to nuclear power/plug-in hybrids, smaller vehicles, bicycles, and/or electrified public transit would cut our carbon dioxide emissions in half. While being cheaper for all parties. Except of course those who are selling us fossil fuels, they wouldn't sell nearly as much. Page eight.
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Old 09-17-06, 10:25 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by lyeinyoureye
To put that into perspective, in 2002 transportation was responsible for ~30% of the carbon dioxide emitted, while electricity generation was resposible for ~39%.
This statistic however convinces me I need to turn the air conditioning down, as well.

Which means that a vehicle would output close to a ton of by-product and my air conditioning, lights, etc would output over a ton. Then, of course, there's the natural gas I burn in the winter.

I have a mental picture of what that would look like sitting in my back yard.
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Old 09-17-06, 11:59 AM   #5
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In retrospect, building houses with high R values, as well as appropriating fuel efficient transportation would initially cost more, but save an arm and a leg in heating/cooling costs down the road, as well as tons of carbon dioxide. What I thought was really interesting was the use of evaporative cooling in rammed eath/etc construction, since it requires the cooler air to be draw in on one end, and push the hotter air out of the other end, reminds me of the whole Qi idea.
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Old 09-17-06, 01:02 PM   #6
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According to the article quoted, "A seven mile commute by bicycle instead of car each day saves almost 9 pounds of hydrocarbons, more than 66 pounds of carbon monoxide, 4.4 pounds of oxides of nitrogen and 1319 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually. If just one out of every 10 commuters who now drive to work switched to bicycling, the savings would amount to 2 billion gallons per year and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 25.4 million tons 8 bicycles can be parked in the space required for just one car"
I appreciate this information. And in my case,
you are preach'n to the Choir man!

Here is a link to my Fansite for my
Rhoades Car which I use for shopping
and getting around town on these days.
It is a heavy 'beast' but it is a blast to
ride and gets the grocery shopping done.
http://members.ispwest.com/don.boring/rhoades-car/
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Old 09-18-06, 12:21 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lyeinyoureye
To put that into perspective, in 2002 transportation was responsible for ~30% of the carbon dioxide emitted, while electricity generation was resposible for ~39%. A switch to nuclear power/plug-in hybrids, smaller vehicles, bicycles, and/or electrified public transit would cut our carbon dioxide emissions in half. While being cheaper for all parties. Except of course those who are selling us fossil fuels, they wouldn't sell nearly as much. Page eight.
Some of your ideas sound real good. However, one problem with nuclear power and hybrids is that they remain pie-in-the-sky utopianism. They will take decades to implement, even if we go gung-ho toward enacting them--which, obviously, we are not. For example, by the time enough nuclear power plants are online to replace coal and natural gas plants, the climate may very well have tanked. Simpler ideas--like bikes (and many other ideas discussed here) can be implemented immediately. It's nice to read these figures that quantify how much good we do by riding our bikes.

Waiting for the government and big business to solve GHG is like waiting for Mayor Nagin to give you a ride out of New Orleans.
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Old 09-20-06, 09:33 AM   #8
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Well... the problem with any solution is that it will take time to implement. Going along these lines, maybe we should just lay down and die, because living takes time?
Srsly, the amount we've spent on the Iraq war should be enough to replace all of our coal fired electricity production. And of course, technology that improves emissions will take time to implement as well. Does that mean we shouldn't do it? Well, we can either do it, or advocate it, or continue to do what we're doing now. The point being that we might as well support what we feel will help us, because the alternative, not supporting it, definitely won't help us. We can also do whatever we'd like to do on a personal/immediate level, so it's not like they're mutually exclusive. Or for that matter, w/o quantifying the impact of biking versus driving versus some low impact combination of the two, stating anything will have any difference unless it's established is purely speculative.
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Old 09-20-06, 09:49 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gerv
There's an interesting thread in Commuting about Commuting and the Environment
Cycling and the environment

According to the article quoted, "A seven mile commute by bicycle instead of car each day saves almost 9 pounds of hydrocarbons, more than 66 pounds of carbon monoxide, 4.4 pounds of oxides of nitrogen and 1319 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually. If just one out of every 10 commuters who now drive to work switched to bicycling, the savings would amount to 2 billion gallons per year and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 25.4 million tons 8 bicycles can be parked in the space required for just one car"

Is this article correct? That's an awful lot of atmospheric damage. Now I'm quite proud I didn't use the car all week (until this morning, when I drove my bike to the LBS...for repairs.)
Interesting, but what percentage of the total emmissions produced would be reduced by this amount of bicycle use?
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Old 09-20-06, 09:54 AM   #10
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Back to the OP's question, think of it this way: A gallon of gasoline weighs between 5.8 and 6.2 pounds depending on temperature and formulation. For ease of calculation, let's just say it's six pounds.

If you pour a gallon of gasoline on the sidewalk and just let it dry up, you've added six pounds of hydrocarbons (and other stuff) to the atmosphere. If your car gets 20MPG and you drive 20 miles, you've also added that six pounds to the atmosphere. (The weight of the air used in the combustion process is a wash, because it came from the atmosphere to begin with.)

When you see one of those 8,000 gallon tankers driving down the street, there are 48,000 pounds of gasoline in it, or 24 tons of the stuff. The gas station across the street from where I work, goes through four or five loads of the stuff a week. Adds up pretty quick.
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Old 09-20-06, 11:48 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tsl
Back to the OP's question, think of it this way: A gallon of gasoline weighs between 5.8 and 6.2 pounds depending on temperature and formulation. For ease of calculation, let's just say it's six pounds.

If you pour a gallon of gasoline on the sidewalk and just let it dry up, you've added six pounds of hydrocarbons (and other stuff) to the atmosphere. If your car gets 20MPG and you drive 20 miles, you've also added that six pounds to the atmosphere. (The weight of the air used in the combustion process is a wash, because it came from the atmosphere to begin with.)

When you see one of those 8,000 gallon tankers driving down the street, there are 48,000 pounds of gasoline in it, or 24 tons of the stuff. The gas station across the street from where I work, goes through four or five loads of the stuff a week. Adds up pretty quick
.
That's a nifty explanation. Am I right about this? The carbon in the hydrocarbon is transformed in the combustion process, into carbon dioxide--the main greenhouse gas? And the hydrogen in the hydrocarbon combines with oxygen from the atmosphere to form water (H2O)?

(I don't know how I managed to get a couple college degrees without studying chemistry!)
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Old 09-20-06, 05:57 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roody
That's a nifty explanation. Am I right about this? The carbon in the hydrocarbon is transformed in the combustion process, into carbon dioxide--the main greenhouse gas? And the hydrogen in the hydrocarbon combines with oxygen from the atmosphere to form water (H2O)?

(I don't know how I managed to get a couple college degrees without studying chemistry!)
Yeah, that's basically it. Oxides of nitrogen form due to the heat, and there's carbon monoxide and few other things produced too, but for a simple, conversational explanation, that's about it.
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Old 09-20-06, 06:49 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Roody
That's a nifty explanation...

(I don't know how I managed to get a couple college degrees without studying chemistry!)
You should have seen the explanation that was given in the Cities Service (Citgo) franchisee training materials from the early 1950s. Daddy Carbon, it went, lives happily with Momma Hydrogen in the contented Hydrocarbon Family. (Diagram: Fedora-wearing four-armed Daddy Carbon linked with four one-armed Momma Hydrogens. Already you see the metaphor breaking down.) Then vampy Miss Oxygen come by, breaks up the happy Hydrocarbon Family and runs off with Daddy Carbon. (Pic: Daddy Carbon wandering off with not one but two Miss Oxygens.) I can't remember what came next but obviously the four Momma Hydrogens would eventually have to wind up with two Miss Oxygens. This is one farked up metaphor. But hey, whatever floats the boat, huh.
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Old 09-20-06, 08:27 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tsl
If you pour a gallon of gasoline on the sidewalk and just let it dry up, you've added six pounds of hydrocarbons (and other stuff) to the atmosphere.
I guess this is a good way to picture it.

I was really struck [and a little disappointed too... they never mentioned human powered transportation.] after watching Tom Brokaw's report on Global Warming a few weeks back. They had a catchy way of showing how Dad's car commute into the city send huge plumes of black smoke into the atmosphere. Each of the family's activities, from making toast to cranking up the a/c added to the plume.

In all, these mental pictures really drive the point home. Maybe they are a little over-simplified, but sometimes folks get confused by complexity and tend to ignore complex, long-term problems.
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Old 09-20-06, 09:57 PM   #15
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In Calgary hockey rinks we have the best slogan from Husky Oil:

Mother Nature's Fuel

No joke! Welcome to Saudi north
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Old 09-22-06, 07:51 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tsl
If you pour a gallon of gasoline on the sidewalk and just let it dry up, you've added six pounds of hydrocarbons (and other stuff) to the atmosphere. If your car gets 20MPG and you drive 20 miles, you've also added that six pounds to the atmosphere. (The weight of the air used in the combustion process is a wash, because it came from the atmosphere to begin with.)
I think it's actually much worse. If you burn those 6 pounds of hydrocarbons, the added oxygen from the air that's fueling the fire is now being paired up with the carbon to actually producte 20 pounds of CO2. So for every gallon of gasoline you burn, you emit 20 pounds of CO2. If your car gets 20 MPG, this works out very nicely to 1 pound per mile. See here for a derivation, or here for my own paraphrase of it. I have a CO2 calculator this site.

An interesting comparison: The average human exhales about 2.2 pounds of CO2 per day. You could make the case, I guess, that heavy exercise increases that, but certainly not by a pound a mile!
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Old 09-22-06, 10:15 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by gerv
This statistic however convinces me I need to turn the air conditioning down, as well.
And stop using these forums maybe. The energy costs to both power and cool the numerous datacenters around the country are enormous. A huge amount of electricity to just run the servers, and the a huge amount to cool the heat those computers produce while running.

Your A/C is less than a drop in the bucket in comparison.
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Old 09-25-06, 05:50 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnBrooking
I think it's actually much worse. If you burn those 6 pounds of hydrocarbons, the added oxygen from the air that's fueling the fire is now being paired up with the carbon to actually producte 20 pounds of CO2. So for every gallon of gasoline you burn, you emit 20 pounds of CO2. If your car gets 20 MPG, this works out very nicely to 1 pound per mile.
If you read my earlier post again, you'll see I said the air used in the combustion process is a wash, since it came from the atmosphere to begin with.

For conversation, I'll accept the 20 lbs of CO2. And I'll explain that the C came from the 6 lbs of gasoline, and the 14 lbs of O2 came from the atmosphere. Thus, the net increase in atmospheric carbon is <drum roll please> six pounds. In other words, 14 of your 20 pounds was already in the atmosphere to begin with.

Don't take this the wrong way, I'd rather have that O2 floating around by itself, not bonded with a C.
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Old 09-27-06, 10:57 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by tsl
If you read my earlier post again, you'll see I said the air used in the combustion process is a wash, since it came from the atmosphere to begin with.

For conversation, I'll accept the 20 lbs of CO2. And I'll explain that the C came from the 6 lbs of gasoline, and the 14 lbs of O2 came from the atmosphere. Thus, the net increase in atmospheric carbon is <drum roll please> six pounds. In other words, 14 of your 20 pounds was already in the atmosphere to begin with.

Don't take this the wrong way, I'd rather have that O2 floating around by itself, not bonded with a C
.
I'm sure your answer is scientifically accurate. However, carbon is not a green house gas. Carbon dioxide is a GHG, of course. So for all practical purposes, the "correct" answer is 20 pounds, not 6 pounds.

Any way you look at it--it's gonna kill us if we don't stop it. And the pessimists can say carfree folk aren't doing enough. But we're doing more than just about anybody else! So we can clearly stand at the end of the line when they're passing out the blame for human extinction in a few years.
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Old 09-28-06, 08:38 PM   #20
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tsl and Roody, you're both right. Either way, I'm glad I'm biking. The bottom line for me is my deep conviction that I'm doing the right thing morally, regardless of the practical effect. Being able to live my conviction at least in my daily transportation has made me a happier and (I believe) more effective person. And, when gas does finally reach $5, the figure that is often quoted as the one that will really get more people out of their cars, guess who all the newbie commuters will be coming to for advice? Us!

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Old 09-29-06, 11:32 AM   #21
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when gas does finally reach $5, the figure that is often quoted as the one that will really get more people out of their cars, guess who all the newbie commuters will be coming to for advice? Us!
Nice we can make a few bucks and become Personal Trainers for Bike Commuting. I'm thinking $40.00 for a 1 Hour session.
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