Is August 4th the British equivalent of April Fool's Day? That was my first thought when I saw the headline of this article: Walking to the shops 'damages planet more than going by car.' The article, by Dominic Kennedy, was published on the 4th, and features some mindbending twists of common sense (and some real careful omission of fact) to come to the conclusion that driving is greener than walking. On top of everything, the Times says that "a leading environmentalist" is the one who calculated this new statistic.

Ok, let's figure out where this leading environmentalist (Chris Goodall) leads us astray. First, he carbon carbon numbers from industrialized beef production to explain how much CO2 it takes a person to walk a certain distance, vs. the CO2 from a "typical UK car" (Frances Moore Lappé would have a thing or two to say about that decision - omitting sustainable vegetable food production from his model leaves Goodall seriously open to attack). Second, he's comparing production CO2 for the food vs. emission CO2 for the car, not taking into account what it costs to produce and ship the fuel (as far as I can tell).

Another choice tidbit from Goodall:

Diesel trains in rural Britain are more polluting than 4x4 vehicles. Douglas Alexander, when Transport Secretary, said: "If ten or fewer people travel in a Sprinter [train], it would be less environmentally damaging to give them each a Land Rover Freelander and tell them to drive"

Okaaaay. So, Mr. Goodall, why not advocate for more train use, or for people to not drive Freelanders but instead to shift to greener vehicles?

Look, I know the environmental debate is confusing and it's good to rethink the things we think we know. The hard truths are that (IMHO) we need to shift our entire lifestyle away from consumption and disposability to a sustainable way of life. Making a claim that driving is better for our lungs than walking doesn't really help; it's something you do when you're trying to sell something. Oh .

Related:
[Source: Times of London via Terra Rossa]


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