BVC-CHAT Interesting (but "un-fact" checked) article about the Prius
maddogwillie2002 at yahoo.com
Wed Apr 4 14:38:46 CDT 2007
Now at least some of us will have ammunition(facts) to rebutt Cliff when starts to tell us that his Hummer is greener than a Prius this saturday. Thanks Chris.
maddog (whose CO2 footprint is small since I only own a scooter)willie
Christopher Menzel <cmenzel at tamu.edu> wrote:
On Apr 4, 2007, at 9:53 AM, Josh Benn wrote:
Since the BVC chat seems on occasion to be more about politics and "environmentalism" than a cycling forum,
Sure, but almost always insofar as they have some relevance to cycling -- and always on BVC-CHAT, with its purposely laissez-faire policies, never on BVC.
I thought y'all might get a kick out of this article:
Right, in the same way that you might get a kick out of listening to Rush Limbaugh shill for Bush and his delusional foreign policy. ;-)
The piece -- written by an undergrad at a small state college in Connecticut, not an environmental expert, and which you wisely qualify as "un-fact-checked"-- does actually make one excellent point, viz., that one has to take the total impact of manufacturing into consideration in assessing the environmental friendliness of a product. And the author does draw a good conclusion, namely, that, even if it is "greener" overall than a Prius, it doesn't follow that the Hummer is an environmentally justifiable choice; it isn't (not to mention the safety and other social consequences of its enormity and not to mention the issue of funding terrorism due to its gargantuan thirst for fossil fuel). All that follows (assuming the truth of the article's premises) is that the Prius is even less justifiable (on environmental grounds). Instead, the author rightly concludes that someone with green sensibilities ought to buy a car with a demonstrably small environmental footprint like
the Toyota Scion. "Green", "organic", "fair-trade" and the like are as liable (even more liable these days) as any other catchphrases to be exploited by Madison Avenue marketing droids.
That noted, the factual claims of the piece can be challenged at several crucial points. You can do your own research and make up your own mind, but the following contains some good pointers:
1. The new EPA combined mileage put the Chevy Aveo at 26 mpg, the Toyota Prius at 46 mpg. So I guess 20 miles more per gallon is "spitting distance."
2. The "Dust-to-dust" study is from a marketing firm, not a science journal. It arrives at an artificially high cost for the Prius by assigning it an arbitrary lifespan of 100k miles, and a Hummer 300k miles. There are Priuses being used as cabs that have 200k on them now: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8839690/
And, insofar as a car lasting, what car do you expect to repair less? A Toyota Prius or a GM Hummer? You can check Consumer Reports for the answer to that one. A good analysis of the flaws in dust-to-dust is available at:
3. The Sudbury info is seriously outdated, and the comment about moon buggies (like, when did Nasa test moon buggies early 1970s) ought to have given the author a clue. Sudbury was polluted by a century of mining (1870 on). In fact, some of Sudburys nickel went into making the Statue of Liberty. Currently, the mine is owned by INCO (not Toyota), and produces 100,000 tons of nickel a year, of which Toyota buys 1% (1000 tons). Nickel, by the way, is primarily used to make stainless steel. The Mail on Sunday newspaper, which ran the story the college article is a thin re-write of (visible here http://www.mailonsunday.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=417227&in_page_id=1770 ), used a stock photo from 1994 to illustrate the pollution (visible here http://www.photoboy.com/bin/Cklb?vmo=1173985067754 ). There were, of course, no Prius in existence or being manufactured in 1994.
Sudbury is no longer as polluted, as INCO and the city have planted over 8 million trees there since 1979. The best history online of the Sudbury devastation/reforestation comes from GM Canada (the trees were all cut down in 1871 to help rebuild Chicago after the fire), and it provides telling photos of some of the reclamation from 1979 to present.
The acid rain problem David Martin of Greenpeace is talking about in is the situation pre 1972. INCO on regreening and SO2 emissions
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