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Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Toyota Prius is Destroying the World
TK Kenyon, your intrepid scientist for non-majors, is not surprised to tell you that if you're thinking about buying a Toyota Prius because you think it will help the environment or halt global warming, STOP!
Because a Prius guzzles the equivalent of 1000 gallons of gas in its manufacture (because its Ni batteries are very energy-consuming to make), you have to save 1000 gallons of gas to break even on the "carbon expense" of its manufacture.
A Prius supposedly gets about 45 mpg, but that number is greatly disputed and more like 38 mpg.
Most cars get 30 mpg, so you're saving 8 mpg. At 10,000 miles per year, you save 70 gallons of gas with a Prius than if you drive your old car. "Paying off" the carbon debt to manufacture the Prius would thus take 14 years, 3 1/2 months to break even.
If you accept Toyota's vastly fudged MPG figures, a Prius burns 222 gallons per year, versus your old car's 333 gallons per year, to go 10,000 miles. At that difference of 111 gallons per year, it will take 9 years to break even on the carbon debt.
So, to save the planet, keep your old guzzler. You've already paid off the carbon debt of its manufacture; plus, junking it will fill up a landfill and create solid waste pollution.
Reduce, reuse, and recycle. You can't shop your way to environmentalism.
Global warming vs. traditional environmentalism trade-off article: http://www.wired.com/science/planetearth/magazine/16-06/ff_heresies_intro