Some surprising info about cars carbon footprint

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One study has found a cars' carbon footprint in one year's driving is about the same as raising the food to feed a dog for one year. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

For good or ill, governments and a good cross section of people want to diminish the “carbon footprint” or emissions of carbon dioxide, of human civilization. It isn’t so much that cars aren’t contributing, but some information about cars carbon footprint might be surprising.

Study suggests a dog is equal to a cars carbon footprint

In the global quest to reduce the carbon footprint of civilization, legislators and citizens are trying to cut back carbon dioxide emissions. Cars carbon footprint is of the most common targets.

However, a study from New Zealand, according to AutoGuide, suggests the carbon footprint of a dog is roughly the same as that of a Toyota Landcruiser, Toyota’s luxury full-size SUV with a 4.6-liter V-8.

The study, by Robert and Brenda Vale, came to that conclusion by estimating the land usage for creating one year’s worth of kibble, figuring the typical pooch consumes 3.17 ounces of meat and 5.5 ounces of grain per sitting. A one-year supply requires 2.07 acres of land to raise. By comparison, the energy generated by driving a Landcruiser 6,200 miles in one year generates 55.1 gigajoules of energy, equivalent to using 1.1 acres of land.

Not the first interesting find

Granted, the Vales, who published this finding in their book “Time to Eat the Dog?”, made a slightly dubious comparison. Most people drive about double the Vale’s 6,200 mile figure, but doubling the mileage to 12,400, closer to reality, results in said Landcruiser producing a carbon footprint equal to using 2.2 acres of land, about 0.05 more than the dog. Then again, one doesn’t need $80,000 in carloans to get a dog, whereas one does for a Landcruiser.

They likewise found a cat had a carbon footprint roughly equivalent to a Volkswagen Golf.

Edmunds found, using Environmental Protection Agency testing procedures that a Ford Raptor pickup, with a 411 horsepower, 6.2-liter V-8, emits less carbon dioxide, non-methane hydrocarbons and nitrous oxide, the main emissions looked at in cars, than gas-powered leaf blowers.

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Comparing the Raptor with a Ryobi leafblower with a four-stroke motor and an Echo leafblower with a two-stroke motor found the truck, the truck put out 6.8 times fewer carbon dioxide than the Ryobi four-stroke, as well as 13.5 fewer times the amount of nitrous oxide and 36 times fewer NMHC emissions. The two-stroke was even worse.

Many things emit more carbon than cars

Even electric cars carbon footprint may be larger than one might think. According to the New York Times, since roughly 45 percent of the nation’s electricity is generated by coal, powering an electric car has a carbon footprint in coal-heavy areas. Granted, it isn’t terrible; a study by the Union of Concerned Scientists found it’s no worse than driving a normal fuel-efficient subcompact.

However, more emissions are produced in manufacturing electric cars. According to AutoBlog, the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership, an advocacy group located in England, estimated in 2011 that producing a hybrid car generated 8 percent more carbon dioxide than making a normal car. Making a plug-in hybrid generated 12 percent more and a fully electric car produced 23 percent more carbon dioxide than making a gas-powered vehicle. Granted, since electric car production is low, that doesn’t mean one should start picketing all Nissan dealers, Everette, Washington to Miami, Florida, either.

Sources

AutoGuide

Edmunds

New York Times

AutoBlog: http://green.autoblog.com/2011/06/09/study-electrics-hybrids-have-lower-carbon-footprints-than-conv/

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