Friday, December 21, 2007

100 million pounds of CO2

So I was sitting in my car on Route 9 yesterday, thinking about Peak Oil and Global Warming.

In particular, I was wondering how much gasoline Amherst drivers waste, and how much CO2 they pump into the atmosphere, while they're waiting for the lights to change downtown.

I figure that over the last 35 years it's somewhere between 1 and 5 millions gallons of gas, which translates to 20-100 million pounds of CO2.

The math is pretty easy: a typical non-hybrid car burns about 3/10 of a gallon of gas per hour when it's standing still. An average of 23,000 people use Route 9 every day, and I figure they probably spend an average of somewhere between 1 and 5 minutes stuck in traffic. .3 * 23,000 * 1/60 * 365 * 35 = 1.4 million gallons for each minute spent waiting.

Why'd I pick 35 years? Because about 35 years ago Amherst decided not to build some roads to improve the traffic situation in town.

Google 'true cost gasoline' or 'pollution costs gasoline' and you'll find a range of estimates-- anywhere from a low of about $1 per gallon to over $10 per gallon. Add it all up, and you get costs of anywhere between $1 million and $50 million.

Weigh that against a likely $10-$20 million dollar cost of building a 3 mile extension of University Drive to Route 9 East of downtown (near Amherst Woods). If you believe the true cost of gasoline is $10/gallon, then Amherst did tens of millions dollars of damage to both it's economy and the environment by doing nothing about traffic congestion downtown.


1 comment:

Larry Kelley said...

Of course the business owners in the downtown are going to hang you in effigy (or perhaps for real) if town officials take your advice after all these years.