Is walking to the store “greener” than riding there in your car? Here’s an interesting article from The Times UK arguing for the car. The upfront argument is specious. Consider:
“Driving a typical UK car for 3 miles [4.8km] adds about 0.9 kg [2lb] of CO2 to the atmosphere,” he said, a calculation based on the Government’s official fuel emission figures. “If you walked instead, it would use about 180 calories. You’d need about 100g of beef to replace those calories, resulting in 3.6kg of emissions, or four times as much as driving.
This is damning information regarding beef production, but only the most die-hard Atkins fan would try to “fuel” a three mile walk entirely on beef. It’s a straw man argument. What about comparing the drive to someone who “fuels” their walk via a bagel? Further, if you’re going to consider the emissions from the entire chain of beef production, wouldn’t it be proper to also consider the entire chain of automobile manufacture and gasoline production and not just the drive to the store to be consistent?
Secondarily, this article gives people the impression that they shouldn’t be going out for that healthy walk and should instead drive everywhere. What are the long term health consequences of that action taken to its logical extreme?
The article does bring up some good points (and some are raised in the comments section along with the usual nonsensical sludge concerning “scientists not knowing anything”). For example, it’s sensible to eat “lower on the food chain”, e.g. beans instead of beef or pork. Also, people need to start considering the source of their food and certain “convenience” factors. Is it wise to ship in produce from 1500 miles away that could be produced locally? Is it wise to create meals, freeze them, keep them frozen during shipment and storage, and finally have the consumer reheat them at home? That is very energy intensive. But consider the tricky combination: If an item cannot be grown locally (let’s say strawberries in NY during January), which is less energy intensive, shipping strawberries 3000 miles away from California, or freezing locally grown strawberries for six months?