Some food for thought as to the consequences of our every-day actions. (One of my favorites articles, reposted for those who missed it.)
1. Law of entropy. Everything is bad for the environment, because everything consumes more energy than it produces. The real question: Can humans live in harmony for the life of the planet and sun? 2. The infrastructure of today’s society is inherently non-sustainable. Perhaps if our societies were designed around bicycles or trolleys, I wouldn’t be writing this. However, our society’s are built around cars, which means re-building the roads, or subtracting lanes from the cars, or impeding traffic. What is the environmental cost of increased traffic jams (time driving) or reduced parking spots and circling vehicles. (This legal issue halted San Francisco’s bicycle progress for 4 years.) Indeed, whole communities would have to be rebuilt to a more medieval European scale. 3. Indirect use of petrol. Most cars that pass a bicycle will slow down, swerve and then accelerate. This constant indirect acceleration and decceleration of passing vehicles uses more gasoline than simply driving your own car slow and steady. Compound that by bad drivers, angry motorists and even overcautious motorists creating a mini-traffic jam as they wait to pass the bicyclist. 4. Increased food consumption. Cost of food is approximately 1/2 gallon of oil per 1000 food calories, or about 17 times (up to 54x*) more energy is used to grow the food than is gained by eating the food. In other words, every time we eat we are indirectly consuming petrochemicals (and sometimes we are actually eating the petrochemicals). More info. 5. Increased lifespan. The active lifestyle of a bicyclist is estimated to add at least 2 years to your life, which indirectly increases the population and energy consumption.** 6. Increased chance of serious bodily injury to the bicyclist due to accidents (and on a lesser scale simple wear and tear, such as worn out joints, smog-damaged lungs, overexposure like sunburn and dehydration) and the related costs of medical care and equipment. (25% of the average American’s working life is devoted to paying for healthcare.) 7. Being cool. Environmental cost of bicycle, clothes, tools and high-tech gear, especially in addition to a car, or additional modes of transport, like trains, buses and cabs to support the car-less bicyclist. 8. Cold beer and hot showers. I think just about everyone loves a cold beer and hot shower after a day of cycling; however, some research studies have concluded there is not even enough energy (re-newable or not) to produce a hot shower or a cold beer every day for every citizen of the planet until time’s end, nevermind the cost of manufacturing and transporting these materials. 9. Angry bicyclists. Being a bicyclist myself I hate to admit it, but lots of us, particularly the gearheads and fanatics types, just plain have bad attitudes, and bad attitudes correlates not only into increased backlash in most of my points, but also if you are metaphysically inclined, the bad attitude is polluting the atmosphere with a bad vibe. 10. Lost time and energy. Bicycling takes time and can be exhausting, which could drain resources and passion away from all other endeavors, including saving the planet, and/or increase resources needed to recover.
Copyright © 9-22-2010. Please attribute Scott Stoll and www.theArgonauts.com
Sources: *”The Omnivore’s Dilemma.” Michael Pollan. The Penguin Press. **“The Environmental Paradox of Bicycling”, Karl Ulrich. University of Pennsylvania.