Sunday, September 2, 2007

Global warming update

Falsehood alert: for quite some time now, there's been a lot of talk from environmentalists about how the cars Americans drive are big gas-guzzlers which leave too much of a "carbon footprint." John Edwards just the other day said Americans ought to be willing to "sacrifice" their SUVs (I wrote about it here). Problem: abandoning, say, a Hummer in favor of, say, a Prius won't get the job done, despite what everybody says. George F. Will addressed this issue a couple of months ago. Quote: "Speaking of Hummers, perhaps it is environmentally responsible to buy one and squash a Prius with it. The Prius hybrid is, of course, fuel-efficient. There are, however, environmental costs to mining and smelting (in Canada) 1,000 tons a year of zinc for the battery-powered second motor, and the shipping of the zinc 10,000 miles -- trailing a cloud of carbon dioxide -- to Wales for refining and then to China for turning it into the component that is then sent to a battery factory in Japan. Opinions differ as to whether acid rain from the Canadian mining and smelting operation is killing vegetation that once absorbed carbon dioxide. But a report from CNW Marketing Research ("Dust to Dust: The Energy Cost of New Vehicles from Concept to Disposal") concludes that in "dollars per lifetime mile," a Prius (expected life: 109,000 miles) costs $3.25, compared with $1.95 for a Hummer H3 (expected life: 207,000 miles)."