Why Bother?

So I drive a car. My work requires it of me. My mortgage requires me to work. My penchant for a warm and comfortable home determines the mortgage. I drive a car. But when I changed my car (when my work forced me to change my car…) I looked for one that, while large enough to carry family and tools as required, was efficient mileage-wise and with as little CO2 emission as possible. I average high forties MPG (not from the in-car computer but by calculating each fill-up) and the car has an emission rating of 138 g/km CO2. Not great but not awful.

I was talking with someone at an industrial site today who had a piece of equipment leaking. The leak was of Sulpher Hexafluoride, SF6, and the leak rate was 20kg per week. SF6 is deemed to have 23,000 times more global warming potential than CO2. The leak cannot be fixed for commercial reasons for at least six more weeks. This person had worked out how many miles he could drive his Land Rover to attain comparable CO2 emissions. He was astonished. Let’s look at my wagon…

Each week, 20kg SF6
That’s a CO2 equivalent of 20kg x 23,000 = 460,000kg
460,000 / 0.138 = 3,333,333 kilometers
That’s just over two million miles. Per week.

More than four return trips to the moon… I’m not sure the motor’s up to it.

Two million miles worth of CO2 equivalent gas leaking every week from just one piece of equipment. The Environmental Agency suggests UK releases 50,000kg per year of this entirely man-made gas from various sources. Do the math… that’s like running my car for 5,000,000,000 miles each year. Now, I’m not a long distance driver and I’m pretty good when it comes to speeds, generally setting the cruise control to about 70mph on the motorway. It ‘s not feasible, is it?

It’s facts like these that make me sit back on occasion and think, ‘why bother?’ Why worry about the fuel economy, switching off the (low energy) lights, ‘reducing re-using recycling’. I guess the only sensible answer is because it’s ‘the right thing’. Because, if there is any payback after this life is over, I’ll want to have some honour. And because if not us then who? Sleep well.

Oh, by the way. Don’t pick your nose shortly after dicing a handful of extra hot chilli peppers (fresh cut from the plants in the greenhouse). No, really, just don’t. It’s too silly.


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