Making the Obviously Correct Choice for the Environment

February 16, 2007


I had an engineering professor who drove an old boat of a car. This car was one of those behemoth’s from the 70’s that required leaded fuel. Now this type of behavior may not sit well with our Prius driving sensibilities, but that is the point of this post.

This particular engineering professor was not oblivious to environmental issues. In fact, he specialized in environmental systems and put a great deal of thought into his car choice. His rationale was that new cars have a hidden energy and resource cost associated with them and he concluded that the most environmentally sound approach was to keep the old clunker tuned and use it only when absolutely necessary. Some economists try to do cradle-to-grave environmental impact analysis on automobiles but still the answers are unintuitive at best and usually leave us wondering about hidden agendas.

An article in the BBC compares the environmental difference between imported Dutch vs. African flowers. The claim is that, despite being transported by air, African flowers have much less environmental impact. Don’t tell the Telegraph who has an article which claims Valentine bouquets are bad for the planet.

I think these examples should give anyone pause when passing judgement on flowers, hybrids, or hummers.