Cycling and bicycle discussion forums. 
   Click here to join our community Log in to access your Control Panel  


Go Back   > >

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.

User Tag List

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 02-18-12, 06:06 PM   #1
gerv 
In the right lane
Thread Starter
 
gerv's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Des Moines
Bikes: 1974 Huffy 3 speed
Posts: 9,534
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Carbon footprint of cycling

I just scored a copy of How Bad are Bananas at the library and have been completely engrossed.

To my surprise, the author provides the following information about riding a bike 1 mile.

Quote:
If your cycling calories come from cheeseburgers, the emissions per mile are about the same as two people driving in an efficient car
The good news is that cycling that mile under the influence of a banana has a footprint of about a quart of the cheeseburger. I believe powering with oatmeal calories emit even fewer grams of carbon dioxide.

I guess I have been pretty smarmy about cycling vs motoring, but now will remind myself that it is only an efficient means of transportation if my diet is also not too wasteful of food resources.
gerv is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-18-12, 06:38 PM   #2
enigmaT120
Senior Member
 
enigmaT120's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Falls City, OR
Bikes: 2012 Salsa Fargo 2, Rocky Mountain Fusion, circa '93
Posts: 1,896
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 14 Post(s)
The people in the car probably ate a cheese burger apiece. They are just storing the calories rather than burning them up.

Is that an example of carbon sequestration?
enigmaT120 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-18-12, 08:27 PM   #3
bluegoatwoods
Senior Member
 
bluegoatwoods's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Central Illinois
Bikes:
Posts: 686
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Never forget that sometimes people just make stuff up.

This sounds like an example.

Don't be too gullible.
bluegoatwoods is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-18-12, 09:18 PM   #4
Roody
Sophomoric Member
 
Roody's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Dancing in Lansing
Bikes:
Posts: 23,578
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 169 Post(s)
Roughly speaking, it takes about 40 calories to ride a bike one mile, and there are about 300 calories in a small cheeseburger.

The carbon in the cheeseburger itself is more or less neutral, since it comes from the atmosphere and is quickly returned to the atmosphere. Of course, that doesn't take into account the petroleum required to produce the cheeseburger and deliver it to the consumer, which comes from the ground and is emitted into the atmosphere.
__________________

"Think Outside the Cage"
Roody is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-18-12, 09:46 PM   #5
gerv 
In the right lane
Thread Starter
 
gerv's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Des Moines
Bikes: 1974 Huffy 3 speed
Posts: 9,534
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roody View Post
Roughly speaking, it takes about 40 calories to ride a bike one mile, and there are about 300 calories in a small cheeseburger.

The carbon in the cheeseburger itself is more or less neutral, since it comes from the atmosphere and is quickly returned to the atmosphere. Of course, that doesn't take into account the petroleum required to produce the cheeseburger and deliver it to the consumer, which comes from the ground and is emitted into the atmosphere.
The point is to consider the fuel itself along with the all the energy that goes into its manufacture. Of course, of all meat sources, beef consumes more energy and emits quite a large amount of methane which is the worst greenhouse gas. The author goes to some pains to explain the complexity of the calculation and admits it probably could be improved if more inputs were known. His technique is to attempt to apply all calculations equally across a number of common human activities, like eating a banana, washing dishes, getting to work, that sort of thing.

My takeaway is that you should not pride yourself on being "green" even if you ride everywhere on bike and eat a vegetarian diet if, at the same time, you are taking a transatlantic airplane trip every year. Or, as stated, if you ride to work on cheeseburgers.
gerv is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-19-12, 05:05 AM   #6
cycleobsidian
cycleobsidian
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Southwestern Ontario
Bikes:
Posts: 441
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by gerv View Post
The point is to consider the fuel itself along with the all the energy that goes into its manufacture. Of course, of all meat sources, beef consumes more energy and emits quite a large amount of methane which is the worst greenhouse gas. The author goes to some pains to explain the complexity of the calculation and admits it probably could be improved if more inputs were known. His technique is to attempt to apply all calculations equally across a number of common human activities, like eating a banana, washing dishes, getting to work, that sort of thing.

My takeaway is that you should not pride yourself on being "green" even if you ride everywhere on bike and eat a vegetarian diet if, at the same time, you are taking a transatlantic airplane trip every year. Or, as stated, if you ride to work on cheeseburgers.
Yes, beef in particular does require a lot of energy to produce. The manufacture of beef requires tremendous amount of energy from pesticides and fuel to grow the grains that the cows eat. It also requires a huge amount of antibiotics to keep the cows from dying due to living in overcrowded conditions. Cows need vast amounts of water, and not to forget the treatment of all that sewage. Many groundwater systems have been permanently contaminated by the feces of pigs and cows.

It is better to get protein the same way that chimpanzees, elephants and cows do...from plants. This is a much more efficient way to get the energy we need. Just skip the middle man, er...animal....
cycleobsidian is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-19-12, 05:41 AM   #7
Ziemas
Senior Member
 
Ziemas's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Riga, Latvia
Bikes:
Posts: 10,082
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Why are so many threads in Living Car Free about cars?
Ziemas is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-19-12, 01:45 PM   #8
Roody
Sophomoric Member
 
Roody's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Dancing in Lansing
Bikes:
Posts: 23,578
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 169 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziemas View Post
Why are so many threads in Living Car Free about cars?
There are some threads about cars, but this isn't one of them. This thread is about cheeseburgers.
__________________

"Think Outside the Cage"
Roody is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-19-12, 02:40 PM   #9
gerv 
In the right lane
Thread Starter
 
gerv's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Des Moines
Bikes: 1974 Huffy 3 speed
Posts: 9,534
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by cycleobsidian View Post
Yes, beef in particular does require a lot of energy to produce. The manufacture of beef requires tremendous amount of energy from pesticides and fuel to grow the grains that the cows eat. It also requires a huge amount of antibiotics to keep the cows from dying due to living in overcrowded conditions. Cows need vast amounts of water, and not to forget the treatment of all that sewage. Many groundwater systems have been permanently contaminated by the feces of pigs and cows.

It is better to get protein the same way that chimpanzees, elephants and cows do...from plants. This is a much more efficient way to get the energy we need. Just skip the middle man, er...animal....
The CO2 calculation by the author is also based on the fact that cows, like sheep, are ruminates. As they digest their food, they belch out methane... one of the worst greenhouse gases. This little quote describes it

Quote:
The FAO report [a 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)] found that current production levels of meat contribute between 14 and 22 percent of the 36 billion tons of "CO2-equivalent" greenhouse gases the world produces every year. It turns out that producing half a pound of hamburger for someone's lunch a patty of meat the size of two decks of cards releases as much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere as driving a 3,000-pound car nearly 10 miles.
from:http://www.scientificamerican.com/ar...ouse-hamburger
gerv is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-19-12, 04:32 PM   #10
bendembroski
My legs hurt
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Farther behind you than I'd like to be
Bikes: Vaya, Brompton, '73 Schwinn Super Sport, Cresswell Fold-it, '81 Trek 610
Posts: 683
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by gerv View Post
if you ride to work on cheeseburgers.
I tried that once. The rolling resistance was terrible.
bendembroski is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-19-12, 05:23 PM   #11
wahoonc
Senior Member
 
wahoonc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: On the road-USA
Bikes: Giant Excursion, Raleigh Sports, Raleigh R.S.W. Compact, Motobecane? and about 20 more! OMG
Posts: 16,687
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by enigmaT120 View Post
The people in the car probably ate a cheese burger apiece. They are just storing the calories rather than burning them up.

Is that an example of carbon sequestration?
This is my point...the US is effectively in the midst of an obesity epidemic, how they can figure that a transportation cyclist is going to have a carbon foot print larger than the overweight guy behind the wheel is beyond me. I don't ride enough, I have taken to walking 2-3 miles a day just to make sure I am getting enough exercise and to keep from gaining weight due to a job position change. I watch what I eat and lean towards the veggie side of things. Then get in a relatively efficient car and drive 1500 miles a week Damned if I do and Damned if I don't...

Aaron
__________________
Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

"Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
_Nicodemus

"Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred
Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
_krazygluon
wahoonc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-19-12, 05:24 PM   #12
Artkansas 
Pedaled too far.
 
Artkansas's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: La Petite Roche
Bikes:
Posts: 12,858
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roody View Post
There are some threads about cars, but this isn't one of them. This thread is about cheeseburgers.
But cheeseburgers and cars go well together.

__________________
"He who serves all, best serves himself" Jack London

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.
Artkansas is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-19-12, 10:05 PM   #13
DX-MAN
Banned
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Bikes:
Posts: 4,789
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Since I'm down to 1-2x burger meals per week, and I ride 6, I'll declare that I'm OK.

Which I would have done anyway.

Since doing those 'carbon footprint' tests all over the www, I figured out that my carbon footprint is doubled just by having my family live with me; well, to hell with THAT, carbon will just have to build up. I've grown rather fond of my sister and our assorted kids.
DX-MAN is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-20-12, 12:51 AM   #14
JeanSeb
Senior Member
 
JeanSeb's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Central Quebec
Bikes:
Posts: 379
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by bendembroski View Post
I tried that once. The rolling resistance was terrible.
Studded tires maybe ?
JeanSeb is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-20-12, 07:03 AM   #15
cycleobsidian
cycleobsidian
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Southwestern Ontario
Bikes:
Posts: 441
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by DX-MAN View Post
Since I'm down to 1-2x burger meals per week, and I ride 6, I'll declare that I'm OK.

Which I would have done anyway.

Since doing those 'carbon footprint' tests all over the www, I figured out that my carbon footprint is doubled just by having my family live with me; well, to hell with THAT, carbon will just have to build up. I've grown rather fond of my sister and our assorted kids.
Your carbon footprint may be higher by having your family live with you, but lower overall if everyone lived in their own homes. Your family's overall carbon footprint is reduced, I'm sure, by sharing resources.

You can enjoy your family and have a lower family carbon footprint!
cycleobsidian is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-20-12, 08:26 AM   #16
bendembroski
My legs hurt
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Farther behind you than I'd like to be
Bikes: Vaya, Brompton, '73 Schwinn Super Sport, Cresswell Fold-it, '81 Trek 610
Posts: 683
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeanSeb View Post
Studded tires maybe ?
If it's cheeseburgers, maybe a 'fatbike' would be more appropriate.
bendembroski is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-20-12, 01:06 PM   #17
JeanSeb
Senior Member
 
JeanSeb's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Central Quebec
Bikes:
Posts: 379
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by bendembroski View Post
If it's cheeseburgers, maybe a 'fatbike' would be more appropriate.
Touché.
JeanSeb is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-20-12, 02:45 PM   #18
Smallwheels
Senior Member
 
Smallwheels's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: I'm in Portland Oregon
Bikes: Xootr scooter
Posts: 1,381
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Fun With Figures

So if someone went on a starvation diet could they drive a car and be carbon neutral?

I like all of these carbon calculators. Each one is flawed in some way. They make me think.

The problems with our environment are just relative. If you look at the Earth from the perspective of it being in a solar system and don't look deeper, the planet is doing fine and humans have no effect on its continuing to orbit the star. It is only when we delve into the aspect of humanity and how it is changing the planet that changes can be seen.

If humanity had a goal with which we all agreed, there could be a standard for how we operate on Earth.

All physical life forms need energy. Most get it from the sun. Some get it from other life forms. Who gets what and how much has never been figured out. As of now if you can get it you can have it.

I don't feel it's necessary for me to compare my bicycle or moped usage to what I would use if I had a car. No matter what, I know my methods use less energy and resources. My method is better than owning and using a car in regards to energy used.

Using a bicycle is much less expensive than walking. Bicycles save wear on shoes and use the food we eat more efficiently when that energy is put into locomotion.

Knowing how much energy one gets out of a banana and how much carbon went into getting it to me is still interesting. I've eaten two of them today.
Smallwheels is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-20-12, 07:07 PM   #19
gerv 
In the right lane
Thread Starter
 
gerv's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Des Moines
Bikes: 1974 Huffy 3 speed
Posts: 9,534
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smallwheels View Post
No matter what, I know my methods use less energy and resources. My method is better than owning and using a car in regards to energy used.
You suspect your methods use less. And they probably do. The book points out that if you were say a big eater of asparagus flown in from Peru and maybe those tomatoes grown in Canada in greenhouses in the winter, you'd probably be wrong.

But I'm guessing a lot of your fuel comes from oatmeal and bananas... both pretty reasonable food sources from a resource usage point of view. I find many of those high energy vegetables like tomatoes don't taste too good. And I'm not fond of cheeseburgers.

The book also confirmed that my annual plane trip cross country is comparable to a short car commute in an efficient car over a whole year.

Of course some of the computations are not accurate, mainly because there are just too many possible factors involved, but it's good to look at the big picture of our transportation, food, leisure, travels.... our whole lives.

I feel better now knowing that there are smarmy Prius owners out there who may have a lower carbon footprint than myself.

Last edited by gerv; 02-20-12 at 07:10 PM.
gerv is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-20-12, 09:05 PM   #20
Roody
Sophomoric Member
 
Roody's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Dancing in Lansing
Bikes:
Posts: 23,578
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 169 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by gerv View Post
You suspect your methods use less. And they probably do. The book points out that if you were say a big eater of asparagus flown in from Peru and maybe those tomatoes grown in Canada in greenhouses in the winter, you'd probably be wrong.

But I'm guessing a lot of your fuel comes from oatmeal and bananas... both pretty reasonable food sources from a resource usage point of view. I find many of those high energy vegetables like tomatoes don't taste too good. And I'm not fond of cheeseburgers.

The book also confirmed that my annual plane trip cross country is comparable to a short car commute in an efficient car over a whole year.

Of course some of the computations are not accurate, mainly because there are just too many possible factors involved, but it's good to look at the big picture of our transportation, food, leisure, travels.... our whole lives.

I feel better now knowing that there are smarmy Prius owners out there who may have a lower carbon footprint than myself.
I think your footprint would still be smaller if you ate asparagus and cheeseburgers, but rode a bike instead of a car.

The consensus seems to be that the best ways to reduce your personal carbon footprint, in order from greatest reduction to least, are:
  1. Reduce energy consumption in your home through insulation, conservation and efficiency.
  2. Become a vegetarian or at least eat less meat.
  3. Quit driving a car, or at least drive a lot less..

Home energy savings are expensive and a lot of work, and I would miss cheeseburgers a LOT if I gave up meat. But the great thing about Number 3 is that I get to do less of an activity that I don't like, and more of something I do enjoy.
__________________

"Think Outside the Cage"
Roody is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-20-12, 09:09 PM   #21
ultimattfrisbee
Senior Member
 
ultimattfrisbee's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Pittsburgh, PA USA
Bikes: 2012 Jamis Xenith Race, 2009 Jamis Aurora, 1993 Bianchi Ibex, 1964 Schwinn Traveler 3-Speed
Posts: 169
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I haven't eaten two cheeseburgers in years. Cheeseburgers are a rare indulgence for me these days and I hate to think of the havoc two'd play on my middle-aged GI tract.

Let's just say this: there'd be emissions issues (sorry!)!
ultimattfrisbee is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-20-12, 10:49 PM   #22
DX-MAN
Banned
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Bikes:
Posts: 4,789
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by cycleobsidian View Post
Your carbon footprint may be higher by having your family live with you, but lower overall if everyone lived in their own homes. Your family's overall carbon footprint is reduced, I'm sure, by sharing resources.

You can enjoy your family and have a lower family carbon footprint!
I failed to mention that I did THEIR 'test', as well, and yep, it's lower with us being together; some members of my extended family are conspicuous consumers. They'd be OBSCENE on their own!
DX-MAN is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-22-12, 10:10 PM   #23
gerv 
In the right lane
Thread Starter
 
gerv's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Des Moines
Bikes: 1974 Huffy 3 speed
Posts: 9,534
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roody View Post
  1. Reduce energy consumption in your home through insulation, conservation and efficiency.
  2. Become a vegetarian or at least eat less meat.
  3. Quit driving a car, or at least drive a lot less..
This pretty much describes what needs to happen in G-20 countries.
gerv is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-29-12, 08:25 PM   #24
smasha
Vegan on a bicycle
 
smasha's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: wellington NZ (via NJ & NC)
Bikes:
Posts: 1,016
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
the details and numbers can be debated until the earth crashes into the sun, but no one can argue the basics...

A- riding a bicycle is greener than driving a car. in fact only walking is (arguably) greener.
B- eating locally grown foods is greener than foods that are transported large distances.
C- eating lower on the food chain is greener than eating higher on the food chain.

so, being a vegan on a bicycle, I WIN

seriously, though, i lose points for being in NZ. although i'm partial towards locally grown foods, i still eat a lot of imported stuff. some things just aren't grown in NZ.
smasha is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-01-12, 12:10 PM   #25
Suburban
Senior Member
 
Suburban's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Suburb
Bikes:
Posts: 217
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I have malabsorption syndrome, I can't eat meat anyway.

I have rented an electric car before. I can't decide if that makes me evil or not.
Suburban is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off



All times are GMT -6. The time now is 08:40 AM.