Thursday, May 22, 2008

Prius?

Somebody asked me
Do you have a hybrid car? For some reason, I was thinking you did. I am trying to find a Prius. Just wondering if you had one and had any opinions on it.

This is a subject I'm quite interested in. People switch cars for different reasons. I've considered switching cars myself to reduce pollution and expenses, but I haven't yet found a compelling reason to switch from my current car. (Beware of anything that requires spending a lot of money to be green when a behavior change, such as driving less, is just as effective.)

What about walking instead of driving? The person who posed the question probably gets around 18mpg; I have a 25 mpg LeSabre. I drive 15 miles to work but she can walk. She has to drive several miles to the grocery store but I can walk.

There are other ways to help the environment and save money without the large, depreciating capital investment of a new car.

  • Stop driving as much.
  • Stop buying as much stuff.
  • Eat less meat, particularly red meat. You could potentially save as many greenhouse gas emissions as switching to a Prius, and possibly reduce your breast cancer risk at the same time. Hogs, cattle, and poultry are fancy ways to turn corn into flesh, while using a LOT of extra corn to keep the animal alive and fertilize (at best) or trash (think commercial hog farms in NC) their environment. The extra corn production results in extra greenhouse gas production; cattle have their own special contributions.
  • Compost your food scraps (reduces methane generation in landfills).
  • Insulate your house better.

Disclaimer: Looking cool not considered here ;)

See AskPablo: Should I buy a hybrid? and read the commentary as well. I still haven't found a satisfying lifecycle analysis including what happens to my LeSabre when I switch. (I think I need to sell it to a little old lady who really has to have a car but doesn't drive that many miles. Or I need to sell it to someone who will then get rid of their existing, more-polluting, more-guzzling vehicle.)

The big picture involves a population of zillions of drivers and zillions of existing vehicles which haven't reached the end of their service life.

  • Everybody needs to drive less.
  • New cars added to the mix need to use fewer resources for production and operation and be easier to recycle.
  • People who drive more need to have cars with higher gas mileage and which pollute less.
  • Older cars need to be owned by people who can take care of them properly.
  • Hopelessly polluting cars need to be sent to the crusher.

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