Sunday, December 14, 2008

Have I really conserved?

By displaying how much gasoline I used on the year in the left column of this page, I'm helping myself reduce gas use by measuring my consumption, whereas also crowing about my accomplishment. I'd say I've reduced my gasoline consumption by about 175 or more gallons per year, compared with previous years.

But is 225 gallons of consumed gasoline in a year really a lofty goal? Not really. Let's do the math.

A lot of people in China want to realize the American dream and drive like Americans.

According to Lester Brown's book Plan B 3.0, if China reached the car-ownership rate of Americans (three cars for every four people) by 2030 China will have more cars than exist on earth right now (heading for 2009).

And to provide the space on which to drive them, they would have to pave over a lot of the acreage that they require to grow rice and feed their teeming throngs.

Now to my supposed reduced consumption. 1.1 billion cars is the projected number of cars owned in China given an average eight-percent economic growth rate from now until 2030. What if all of these cars driven by people in China used as much gas as I did in 2008?

1.1 billion X 225 divided by 365 equals 678,082,191 gallons of gas used per day. Since one barrel of oil produces about 20 gallons of gas (plus other products like heating oil), then China's 2030 consumption equates to about 33,904,109 barrels of oil per day.

This number exceeds present U.S. consumption by more than 10 million barrels per day, and would probably represent more than one-third of all the daily available oil in the world.

Therefore, not even my reduced consumption is impressive or sustainable, and I haven't even mentioned the associated carbon emissions, which is probably the most important aspect of reducing gasoline consumption.

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