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July 12th, 2008

still more gas math

I subscribe to Mother Jones. And I more or less like it, except when I don't. I generally speaking avoid reading their blogs, because they tend to annoy me. However, I got sucked into this one.

http://www.motherjones.com/blue_marble_blog/archives/2008/07/8957_whats_the_most.html

Which references this Forbes article:

http://www.forbesautos.com/advice/toptens/worst-polluters-2008-story.html

See? 10 most polluting cars. That sounds interesting.

Forbes says:

"The easiest way to minimize your carbon footprint with your next car purchase is to choose a model with the best fuel economy possible. But you don’t necessarily have to choose the most frugal car on the lot to do your part for the environment.

Experts say that realizing even minor improvements in fuel economy among the worst polluters on the road is the most efficient way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions overall. For example, choosing a base GMC Yukon with a 5.3-liter V8, which gets 16 mpg overall, instead of the high-end Denali version and its 14-mpg 6.2-liter V8 would save more than 130 gallons of gasoline per year for the typical driver, and eliminate 1.7 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, says Therese Langer, transportation program director for the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy."

Mother Jones Blue Marble Blog removes the inoffensive earlier paragraph, and just quotes the second paragraph, following it up with:

"Langer then goes on to say that "achieving the same savings through improvements to a 42-mpg Honda Civic Hybrid would require a 25-mpg boost, to 67 mpg."

So let's get this straight: Consumers should feel good about choosing a Yukon SUV over a hybrid, since the Yukon is way more efficient than the Denali? That's kind of like trying to lose weight by eating a ho-ho instead of a ding-dong."

Forbes.com, apparently, has learned that this particular comment by Langer is causing them some trouble, because it has been removed from Forbes.com. It is still visible here:

http://ca.autos.yahoo.com/p/690/dirty-driving-top-10-worst-polluters

At least, it was when I posted this. I suppose you could try google's cache.

The ho-ho/ding-dong summary is not supported by the bits they chose to quote (which said, accurately summarized: buy the best fuel economy possible to minimize your carbon foot print. But if you can't bring yourself to do that, buy the more efficient of the models you are contemplating.), much less the article as a whole. But picking on the removed bit by Langer is kind of annoying. This is actually a _really good point to make_. If everyone has to buy a Prius, we are all screwed because, as R. said, IIRC, there isn't enough nickel in the world for the kinds of batteries currently in the Prius (thing will get better in a future model year). However, if everyone driving something that gets under 10 mpg switches to fleet average, everything gets a whole lot better. Faster, in fact, than the savings difference between, say, a Yaris and a Prius.

ETA: And as long as I'm on the subject, waste some time here:

http://warner.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/07/10/futility-vehicle/

Ms. Warner (another blog I avoid, but that was a _great_ title) wallows a bit without making any demand on her reader to play along. She's sort of sad she bought a 2004 Land Rover when her previous SUV died, and blames the fact she did what all her friends were doing. Me, I tend to think that doing what my friends are doing is generally speaking a good idea (they're smart people who show good judgment and have lots of relevant experience), so I'd be more inclined to blame her choice of friends, but that's a personal matter.

Me, I just want to know why, when she stopped driving the Land Rover except to three places, those three places were, respectively, 1.5 miles, .88 miles and (unknown, but presumably pretty close) miles away. With those distances, I think I'd be walking (ETA: well, except the third one, the gas station; I'd get rid of the car if I only had to go to the metro and the grocery at the specified distances). Maybe invest in one of those little-old-ladies-in-Paris style carts for the grocery store run. I'm fairly certain she's not wrangling infants or even toddlers to the Metro or the grocery store anymore, because July 3's blog entry included this sentence:

"In the back of my closet, I have a box filled with baby and toddler clothes that I will never give away."

And before anyone gives me any crap about the weather, I'd just like to note that with the Ergo, the babywearing cloak and a lot of time, I, on more than one occasion, walked to the local library (just under a mile each way), with T. on my back. In the snow. Of course, it was only uphill coming home.