Seattle Times columnist needs a new ride
Via the Sunday Seattle Times: Danny Westneat has wrecked his car and needs a new ride.
Now, I don’t expect it to be easy being green. But this is ridiculous. What was hailed as our leading green alternative to petroleum [biodiesel] is now an affront to humanity?
I wonder which print media gave him this false impression that biodiesel was our leading green alternative?
But when we asked around about biodiesel, it didn’t take long before the scolding started. Biodiesel pollutes more than oil, said one e-mailer on a community site where my wife asked for advice. Another questioned our morality, saying it’s wrong to use food for fuel when people are starving.
I find it ironic that a newspaper journalist had to learn all of this on an internet forum. Why didn’t they just search the Times archives for articles instead? And what is wrong with stuffing 15 acres of vegetable oil annually into your gas tank? Hint: The price of cooking oil in Africa has gone up 60 percent.
It’s all the eco-rage. The bumper stickers for biodiesel say “No war necessary.” Pollute less, help cool the planet and marshal the renewable power of nature.
Or so the argument went …
Actually, that’s the problem. There wasn’t any argument. You can’t argue in a newspaper. That’s what blogs are for. Some contributors to this blog and others on the other side of the pond saw this storm coming years ago.
In all seriousness, my advice would be to buy the highest mileage car you can afford and try not to drive it much. Let me explain why. I attended that biodiesel forum mentioned. There was a diesel Jeep Liberty on display. According to the EPA, it gets 21 mpg. If biodiesel emits about half of the CO2 as regular diesel, a Prius then would emit less CO2 than that Jeep Liberty running on pure biodiesel, because according the EPA, a Prius gets more than twice the mileage.
The Department of Agriculture study used to promote soybean use says soybean biodiesel is 78 percent carbon neutral; other, more reputable studies from university agricultural departments say it’s about is 41 percent; the studies in Science and the Journal of Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (and several other studies Danny isn’t aware of because they have not been discussed in newspapers) suggest that the biofuels being produced today may turn out to be one of the worst ecological disasters to hit the planet.
Play it safe and find ways to cut your oil use in half. As I’ve said many times before, my family cut gas use 80 percent by swapping a 24 mpg hatchback (Legacy) for a 48 mpg hatchback (Prius) and doing most in-town single occupant miles on a hybrid electric bike: