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You'd better drive

Old 11-07-13, 06:30 PM
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You'd better drive

Srsly?

Walking May Be Worse For The Environment Than Driving
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Old 11-07-13, 06:45 PM
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Per mile. Show me somebody who walks 13k miles a year to fill their basic transportation requirements.
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Old 11-07-13, 07:09 PM
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He doesn't appear to be considering the environmental cost of making the car, which is huge. The source of "fuel" (food) for walking is mentioned in passing at the end of the article, but it's actually a really critical part of the analysis. The assumed quantity of energy needed to make a calorie of food is higher than I've seen before in these types of analyses. I've seen a 10:1 ratio quoted before as an approximate average, but the author is using 15 to 20:1.

Edit: another point I missed on the first read is that he is assuming 200 calories per mile from walking, which is way high. 100 calories is probably much closer to reality. Just changing that assumption cuts the carbon from walking in half, reducing walking to the same or less than driving in the author's calculation, without examining any other of his assumptions.

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Old 11-07-13, 07:25 PM
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These articles come up regularly, and they're usually rubbish. As if drivers don't eat. As if drivers don't get other exercise at the gym or while playing sports, or even walking places after they've parked. As if, as others mentioned, the impact of actually MAKING the car, plus maintaining it, doesn't count. As if the energy put into getting petroleum and refining it into gasoline doesn't figure, either. It's totally daft, but some ppl eat it up b/c they had not considered that there is more impact to walking/biking/rollerskating prior to reading these articles.
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Old 11-07-13, 08:43 PM
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He takes the example of a 180 pound man who chooses to walk a mile to work instead of driving. Walking a mile will burn 200 calories more than the 2000 calories he burns just to survive. Producing food worth 200 calories takes up to 3000-4000 calories. So a person that drives a high fuel economy car that burns 40 miles per gallon will be using only a half to two-thirds of the energy than the walker uses in replacing the calories he expended on walks.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/walki...#ixzz2k1BKMkUa
So moving a 3-ton car a mile uses less energy than moving a 200 lb human being the same distance?

By what trick of nature that possible?
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Old 11-07-13, 09:17 PM
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He's definitely skewing the numbers to support his conclusion besides ignoring other impacts of car use besides gas consumption. One is in using a gas mileage figure of 40 mpg. Even for long-distance highway use relatively few cars achieve that figure. But here he's using it for the case of a car only driven one mile to work - presumably on local streets with stop signs and traffic lights. My car gets up to 40 mpg on long trips, but gets less than half that when used only for such short hops on local streets. And he assumes that the walker is eating a meat-rich diet that is particularly inefficient in how much energy is required to produce the extra 200 calories the walker needs to consume. Of course even with these skewed assumptions a bicyclist riding that mile would need far fewer than 200 extra calories and would still come out ahead in the comparison.
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Old 11-07-13, 09:17 PM
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Originally Posted by gerv View Post
So moving a 3-ton car a mile uses less energy than moving a 200 lb human being the same distance?

By what trick of nature that possible?
LOL that's cutting to the chase! There are so many things wrong with that article and I was considering adding a few more in addition to the excellent points here, but you captured it in a nutshell.
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Old 11-07-13, 09:23 PM
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And let's not forget that the gasoline has its roots in biomaterials like plants and dinosaurs and, inevitably, the sun. I doubt the billion year digestive process was terribly efficient in retaining all of the calories.
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Old 11-07-13, 09:48 PM
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Originally Posted by gerv View Post
So moving a 3-ton car a mile uses less energy than moving a 200 lb human being the same distance?

By what trick of nature that possible?
Because the car uses fuel that comes fairly directly from the oil well, and hasn't been recycled into food along the way. If you use petrochemical fertilizer to grow food, and then use that food to propel your body, you end up using more petrochemical fuel than if you put the petrochemical fuel straight into your car. At least, if you accept the math in the article.
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Old 11-07-13, 09:55 PM
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Another incorrect assumption the author makes is that a person will always eat more to make up for the extra calories burnt by walking. If a man keeps walking to work (2 miles a day) every day, he will likely lose weight, become healthier, and as a consequence, eat less. Which translates into less pollution.
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Old 11-07-13, 10:18 PM
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Originally Posted by cooker View Post
Because the car uses fuel that comes fairly directly from the oil well, and hasn't been recycled into food along the way. If you use petrochemical fertilizer to grow food, and then use that food to propel your body, you end up using more petrochemical fuel than if you put the petrochemical fuel straight into your car. At least, if you accept the math in the article.
No, it doesn't work that way. there are abundant energy inputs between the oil well and the burning of fuel in a motor vehicle that the author simply chooses to ignore. (Take a look at those refineries some day as well as the trains/tanker trucks/pipelines that supply them.) As Gerv put it, this would require some trick. While it's not a trick of nature, it is a trick of deceitful accounting.
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Old 11-07-13, 10:54 PM
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Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
No, it doesn't work that way. there are abundant energy inputs between the oil well and the burning of fuel in a motor vehicle that the author simply chooses to ignore. (Take a look at those refineries some day as well as the trains/tanker trucks/pipelines that supply them.) As Gerv put it, this would require some trick. While it's not a trick of nature, it is a trick of deceitful accounting.
Those inputs also apply to the fuel that is used in agricultural machinery and transport of produce. The real take home message isn't that you should drive instead of walk. It is that the modern agriculture and food industry requires a huge energy input.
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Old 11-07-13, 11:06 PM
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Originally Posted by daihard View Post
Another incorrect assumption the author makes is that a person will always eat more to make up for the extra calories burnt by walking. If a man keeps walking to work (2 miles a day) every day, he will likely lose weight, become healthier, and as a consequence, eat less. Which translates into less pollution.
Since 2/3 of the adult population is overweight or obese, this is definitely true.

No extra calories are needed for walking; the ones we eat already will suffice
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Old 11-07-13, 11:37 PM
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He takes the example of a 180 pound man who chooses to walk a mile to work instead of driving. Walking a mile will burn 200 calories more than the 2000 calories he burns just to survive. Producing food worth 200 calories takes up to 3000-4000 calories. So a person that drives a high fuel economy car that burns 40 miles per gallon will be using only a half to two-thirds of the energy than the walker uses in replacing the calories he expended on walks.
I like how he takes into account the calories consumed walking by breaking down the chain but when it comes to MPG on the car he doesn't break down who worked on building the car/trucker that drove the car to his dealership/dealership employees who sold him the car/Mechanic who services his car/Gas station employee/Trucker who drove the gas there/People who work the pipeline.
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Old 11-08-13, 12:25 AM
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Originally Posted by eofelis View Post
This is just about the most insane thing I've seen outside of the Tea Party. Here's a link that may keep things in perspective:

http://www.ryot.org/apocalypse-now-p...ecorded/434161

And for the record, I ride or walk virtually everywhere I go, and I actually eat less than the people I know who drive everywhere. Just because you drove two miles instead of walking the same distance doesn't mean you're going to cut back on the bacon after you park the truck.
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Old 11-08-13, 10:28 AM
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This also doesn't take into account the energy (and pollution) from building and repairing roads and parking areas.

Walking doesn't even require roads. It's better than bicycling... just slower.
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Old 11-08-13, 11:16 AM
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Originally Posted by cooker View Post
Because the car uses fuel that comes fairly directly from the oil well, and hasn't been recycled into food along the way. If you use petrochemical fertilizer to grow food, and then use that food to propel your body, you end up using more petrochemical fuel than if you put the petrochemical fuel straight into your car. At least, if you accept the math in the article.
One thing to remember is that gasoline doesn't come straight out of the ground. It also requires substantial refinement (especially if the source is Alberta shale...), so this article's math still seems pretty bizarre.
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Old 11-08-13, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by gerv View Post
One thing to remember is that gasoline doesn't come straight out of the ground.
Yes, but that's equally true if the gas is consumed by the food and agricultural and transportation industries that provide the pedestrian's diet.
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Old 11-08-13, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by cooker View Post
Yes, but that's equally true if the gas is consumed by the food and agricultural and transportation industries that provide the pedestrian's diet.
The initial calculation doesn't really distinguish the source of the pedestrian's calories. If it came from potatoes grown in someone's back yard... or if the potato came from some industrial farm in South America...
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Old 11-08-13, 12:05 PM
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Plus, it automatically assumes a significant increase in food intake on the part of the pedestrian....
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Old 11-08-13, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by dcrowell View Post
This also doesn't take into account the energy (and pollution) from building and repairing roads and parking areas.

Walking doesn't even require roads. It's better than bicycling... just slower.
Bicycling doesn't necessarily require roads, either. It is interesting to note that much of the impetus for paved roads in the USA was from cyclists, but they had been riding without roads for decades prior. Of course, it was the racers and such that really pushed for the pavement. Getting by on 28x1.5" rubber, one won't need anything better than a dirt path or a well-groomed trail.
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Old 11-08-13, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by gerv View Post
The initial calculation doesn't really distinguish the source of the pedestrian's calories. If it came from potatoes grown in someone's back yard... or if the potato came from some industrial farm in South America...
if you go to the original blog, he bases it on the overall energy throughputs of American Agriculture as a whole:

The food-supply chain in the United States burns a total of 10.3 quads of fossil-fuel-based energy. (A "quad" is a very large measure of energy: 11015 BTU; a BTU is the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.) The basic problem is that food energy actually produced equals only 1.4 quads, which is about 13.5 percent of the energy absorbed in production. Then, between a third and a half of that potential food energy is wasted at one stage of production or another.12


http://www.econlib.org/library/Colum...ewalking.html#
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Old 11-08-13, 01:34 PM
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Well, this is pretty fudgey maths.

I will leave the discussion of modern agibusiness' energy expenditure to another thread.

M.
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Old 11-08-13, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by MEversbergII View Post
Well, this is pretty fudgey maths.

I will leave the discussion of modern agibusiness' energy expenditure to another thread.

M.
But that is actually the most important issue, not some bogus comparison of a one mile commute.
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Old 11-08-13, 02:04 PM
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Yes...you'd think the author would have written an article about the sad state of industrial agriculture rather than wasting time pointing out the inefficiencies of walking.
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