Thursday, June 21, 2012

Did someone say ‘graph’?: Taras Grescoe’s carbon emissions

Chart displaying carbon emissions for kerosene-fueled jet, diesel-fueled car and electric train
Carbon emissions for kerosene-fueled jet, diesel-fueled car and electric train
Source of data: Taras Grescoe, citing the Deutsche Bahn website
Straphanger by Taras Grescoe (Times Books, 2012) has accompanied me this week on my daily Lake Transit commute.

Grescoe, like me, is a “straphanger,” defined as “somebody who, by choice or necessity, relies on public transport, rather than a privately owned automobile.” His book argues for greater investment in public transportation and less dependence upon automobiles.

During last night’s reading, I encountered a comparison of Grescoe’s 1,000-mile journey by train from Paris to Copenhagen with other forms of travel.
“According to the Web site of Deutsche Bahn, Germany’s state rail operator, making the same journey by car would have taken an hour and a quarter longer, and would have cost twice as much in gas and tolls (not counting car rental fees and insurance). Traveling by plane, of course, would have been faster, but even using budget airlines, it would have been 25 percent more expensive.”
(Grescoe’s journey by train had taken 17 hours and cost 193 euros or $260.)
“The most sobering statistics came in graph form. Had I made the journey by kerosene-fueled jets, my carbon dioxide emissions would have amounted to 560 pounds, and by diesel-powered car, 640 pounds -- a third of a ton of carbon released into the atmosphere. By choosing to travel by electric-powered train, I had released only 160 pounds of carbon dioxide” (138-139).
The statistics seemed ripe to apply what I’ve been learning in my Cuesta College summer course in the use of Microsoft Office Professional and create a graph of my own.

Straphanger can be found through the combined catalog system of our Lake, Mendocino and Sonoma County libraries. An excerpt from the book’s introduction is published at

No comments:

Post a Comment