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Sunday, August 05, 2007

Drive, don't walk, to save the Earth??

I came across a fascinating article that discusses the amount of carbon dioxide released to achieve certain activities. It turns several "green" beliefs on their heads because it calculates the total carbon footprint, i.e. the amount of carbon dioxide produced from start to end of a process.

For example, driving for 3km produces about 0.9kg of carbon dioxide. To walk that distance, the average person will require 180 calories, or about 100g of beef. To supply that amount of beef, the cow would have produced 3.6kg of carbon dioxide!
"The troubling fact is that taking a lot of exercise and then eating a bit more food is not good for the global atmosphere. Eating less and driving to save energy would be better."
-- Chris Goodall,
Green Party parliamentary candidate for Oxford West & Abingdon
That's a distressing conclusion for green activists -- or even the average layman! Here we are, telling everyone to save energy and cut down on carbon dioxide production. And yet, through our own little activities, we are exacerbating the situation.

Of course, the above example assumes that we get our energy from cattle-based products. Still, it made me think about carbon footprints in general. There's the whole process to think -- and worry -- about. That's especially so for a country like Singapore, which imports a lot of its raw materials and food. Importation requires transportation, which require burning of fossil fuels, which produce carbon dioxide.

The article includes a few other "nuggets", such as:
  • traditional nappies are as bad as disposable ones due to the water, detergent and energy needed to clean them
  • travelling by diesel train (a form of public transportation) could produce more carbon dioxide per person than travelling by Land Rover (private transportation)
  • some trees may be more harmful because they produce methane, which is a worse greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
No wonder no one wants to think about the environment. There are too many factors at work here! But I say that we should stick to doing what we can do, such as switching off unused devices, buying locally made products, and raising the air conditioner temperature by one degree.

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1 comment:

ted said...

"For example, driving for 3km produces about 0.9kg of carbon dioxide. To walk that distance, the average person will require 180 calories, or about 100g of beef. To supply that amount of beef, the cow would have produced 3.6kg of carbon dioxide!"


It actually implies that our dietary habits are causing a greater proportion of the greenhouse gases compared to our travelling habits. Therefore, the logical extension to this is to change our dietary habits that incorporate less protein like cows and...hmmm...cows.

The other possible animal is sheep I guess. You can easily get protein from Soy based products anyway.

In case you are wondering, I'm not a full fledge vegetarian, but I'm trying my best. I won't worry about my consumption of beef because I don't eat beef since young.

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