Sunday, September 02, 2007

SUV's, Vegetarianism, and Sink Holes

This was in my email box from Climate Coalition:

Trying to Connect the Dinner Plate to Climate Change. By Claudia H. Deutsch, The New York Times, August 29, 2007. "Animal rights groups do not share the same mission, but they have coalesced around a message that eating meat is worse for the environment than driving. They and smaller groups have started advertising campaigns that try to equate vegetarianism with curbing greenhouse gases. When that report came out, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)and other groups expected their environmental counterparts to immediately hop on the 'Go Veggie!' bandwagon, but that did not happen. 'Environmentalists are still pointing their fingers at Hummers and S.U.V.'s when they should be pointing at the dinner plate,' said Matt A. Prescott, manager of vegan campaigns for PETA... The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has taken up the issue as well, running ads in environmental magazines that show a car key and a fork. 'Which one of these contributes more to global warming?' the ads ask. They answer the question with 'It's not the one that starts a car,' and go on to cite the United Nations report as proof... On its Web page and in its literature, the Humane Society has also been highlighting other scientific studies -- notably, one that recently came out of the University of Chicago -- that, in essence, show that 'switching to a plant-based diet does more to curb global warming than switching from an S.U.V. to a Camry,' said Paul Shapiro, senior director of the factory farming campaign for the Humane Society."

SUV's 'Versus' Meat. By Charles Komanoff,, August 31, 2007. In reference to the NY Times article above "I spotted one glaring error and one questionable assumption in the U of Chicago article (Diet, Energy, and Global Warming, PDF, 17 pages) that underlies the Humane Society's claim. First, the authors evidently used a figure of around 16 lb of CO2 emitted per gallon of gasoline burned. (They don't give their figure; I backed it out of their Table 1.) But the standard coefficient, easily derivable, is approximately 19.6 lb per gallon. Switching to the correct coefficient would add 22-23% to the 'SUV' side of their comparison. Second, the authors based their 'SUV' calculations on average US per capita miles driven (8,332 miles/yr). The appropriate basis, in my view, would be the number of miles a typical motor vehicle is driven, which is around 12,000 (that's the figure US EPA uses in its calculations of carbon impacts of driving). After all, switching from an SUV to a Camry would mean switching out 12,000 miles, not 8,332. Substituting the higher figure would add 44% to the 'SUV' side of the comparison. Making both changes simultaneously would increase the SUV emission figures by 75-77%, which pretty much invalidates the triumphalist statement by the Humane Society's guy. It wouldn't surprise me if there are similar errors undermining the 'food' side of the comparison. Maybe someone else will take a break from their seitan preparation and check it out. And maybe the Humane Society and their allies can find ways of advancing the worthy cause of vegetarianism that don't require belittling SUV damages and Al Gore."

THEN, I found an interesting article that should have been titled "The Pig Poop Papers." The article pointed out that since mega corporate takeovers of smaller pig farms and the rise of the Super Pig Productions around the country that huge holding tanks of Pig Crap are amounting to untreated sewage abound and these mega-poop ponds are leaching into the ground and into the drinking water which is pulled from rivers and other water bodies. That would be against the law if it were People Poop. Doesn't make sense to me.

It was comforting to learn that most Florida water comes from aquifers in the limestone so we have pretty good drinking water, that is until it reaches the treatment areas where it is pumped full of chlorine and fluoride and ran through lead piping. (It's just the fish we can't eat because of the chemical dumping by paper plants and other sources and we best keep an eye on the fecal coliform levels before we dip in the Gulf!).

Anyway, when we put in our pump for the yard, I was amazed that water was available only twelve foot down. Then it crossed my mind, why doesn't the County regulate these water pumps - how long does it take a subdivision to drain an aquifer? Ever heard of Florida's sink holes? That's how they work - the water is all gone from the limestone caverns and the ground sinks and eats your house with it.

Enough, going to get busy and paint some more. And decide not to worry about this stuff.

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