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State Rep. Says Biking Is Not Earth Friendly Because Breathing Produces CO2 976

Posted by samzenpus
from the pedal-price dept.
terbeaux writes "The fact that Rep Ed Orcutt (R — WA) wants to tax bicycle use is not extraordinary. The representative's irrational conviction is. SeattleBikeBlog has confirmed reports that Orcutt does not feel bicycling is environmentally friendly because the activity causes cyclists to have 'an increased heart rate and respiration.' When they contacted him he clarified that 'You would be giving off more CO2 if you are riding a bike than driving in a car...' Cascade blog has posted the full exchange between Rep Ed Orcutt and a citizen concerned about the new tax."
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State Rep. Says Biking Is Not Earth Friendly Because Breathing Produces CO2

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 04, 2013 @09:59AM (#43066835)

    For those interested, I'd recommend the book How Bad is a Banana, which examines the carbon footprint of various foods (which varies greatly).

    Fun tidbit: If you were to take your calories from asparagus (which has a big carbon footprint), riding a bike actually has a bigger carbon footprint than a city bus. Yea, I know we don't eat only asparagus, but the point is still valid: you can just look at the surface and ignore the externalities of your actions.

  • Re:Cars produce more (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tibit (1762298) on Monday March 04, 2013 @10:09AM (#43066973)

    I think that maybe some people just find it too hard to believe that all the carbon in the plants actually comes from the air. This gives you an idea about how much the atmosphere weighs -- CO2 is merely 0.04% of our atmosphere! Heck, forget the plants that are alive now, just look at how much of this stuff was in the atmosphere long time ago. Every bit of carbon in coal deposits came from the atmosphere!!

  • by Inda (580031) <slash.20.inda@spamgourmet.com> on Monday March 04, 2013 @10:21AM (#43067135) Journal
    I'd suggest that book it dated if it's giving advice like that.

    These days, asparagus can be grown in a single season. In yestayear, it would have taken two. I've grown some lovely spears myself and they take no more work than any other type of vegetable. Maybe slightly more space is needed, but not that much.
  • What a fucking moron (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dargaud (518470) <slashdot2@gd a r g a ud.net> on Monday March 04, 2013 @10:25AM (#43067183) Homepage
    Some people really deserve all the insults that can be thrown at them.

    The difference between the CO2 you exhale and that exhaled by your car is that yours come from the food you ate: plants (even if indirectly you ate animals that ate plants). And those plants got it from the atmosphere. So you are just returning CO2 to where it came from. A car takes it from the ground where it's been slowly accumulating for tens of millions of years and dumps it into the atmosphere. It's NOT the same CO2.

    Now if we go into externalities such as "how must CO2 from petroleum did it take to bring that food on the table", then it gets a bit more tricky.

  • Re:Cars produce more (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 1s44c (552956) on Monday March 04, 2013 @10:30AM (#43067247)

    The "stuff that matters" is that Americans elected that kind of people to make laws based on his knowledge. Don't worry, probably have more clue than the rest.

    And there is the real problem. People are elected into positions of responsibility not because they can do the job, but because they read good speeches.

  • Re:Cars produce more (Score:5, Interesting)

    by i kan reed (749298) on Monday March 04, 2013 @10:30AM (#43067267) Homepage Journal

    Yes, this is correct, but what many people forget is that the calories you ingest as a first world eater include pretty substantial amounts of fossil fuel use in fertilizing, care-taking, and transport. More energy from fossil fuels, in fact, than you receive in calories(or so I've heard).

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Monday March 04, 2013 @10:40AM (#43067393)

    Actually shipping is very efficient. It can take far more fossil fuels to grow crops outside their ideal area vs transporting them.

    I guess we could all only eat things grown in a 20 mile radius, but that would be pretty limiting.

  • Re:Cars produce more (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Captain Hook (923766) on Monday March 04, 2013 @10:51AM (#43067513)
    That I can believe, and I almost mentioned that in my original post but it detracted from the simplicity of the point I was trying to get across. I was starting to sound like a laywer. "This is true, unless you use this source for fertiliser and if you live away from rural areas you have to account for transportation fuel." etc.

    The figure I've heard is something like 10 times more kJ in fossil fuel relative to the kJ consumed as food, as a species we literally eat fossil fuels by temporarily converting it into carrots and potatoes and beef steaks, it why I'm so afraid of peak oil, as a species since the industrial revolution we've thrived and the population has expanded well beyond the naturally sustainable population by using an energy source which almost no other animal on the planet can use. When it's gone we had better have a significant alternative to both the energy and the chemical feedstock aspects of fossil fuel because without it a lot of us are going to starve to death.

    Having said that, I have an allotment plot and about 50% of my yearly calorie intake comes from a source without any fossil fuel usage, I could bump that up significantly but to do it I would need to put far more time into the plot. The equivalent of doing it as a full time job and it would be pretty much subsistance farming which isn't alot of fun.
  • Re:Cars produce more (Score:5, Interesting)

    by History's Coming To (1059484) on Monday March 04, 2013 @10:59AM (#43067605) Journal
    That's the last of our problems- we'd all be dead within 72 hours or so. CO2 is required to make the human respiration system work, the breathing reflex is triggered by too much CO2, not by a lack of oxygen, this is why hyperventilating before holding your breath can make you pass out, you scrub lots of CO2 out of your system and then run out of O2 before your brain forces you to inhale. This is also the mechanism behind Cheyne Stokes respiration, where high altitude climbers don't breath enough while they sleep.

    Erradicate all CO2 and you have to consciously breath, on purpose - if you forget, or fall asleep, you're dead.
  • Agreed but a remark (Score:4, Interesting)

    by aepervius (535155) on Monday March 04, 2013 @11:04AM (#43067683)
    There are as many idiot on bike as in car. BUT and that is a really important point, idiot biker are far more likely to damage themselves than to damage other, on the contrary to idiot in car. In fact for many of the point you cited above , I saw in the last years at least one car doing it. Up to the point of having a geisterfahrer (guys which take the highway on the frigging wrong direction going coutner sense of the other car).
    "- Let's speed down the middle of a one-way street, going the wrong way."
    Have had car do that on me. At 40 mph in a city road because they were in a hurry.

    - Let's ride down the middle of an actual highway... yeh, nothing bad will happen here. (Seriously, saw that and went WTF)
    As said above see my paragraph about geisterfahrer.

    - That red light (or stop sign) at the bottom of the hill is only for cars... I don't need to stop or even slow down
    Was badly hurt by a car which tought red light don't count. There was no policeman so hey who the fuck care about red light, right RIGHT ? And I don't count the number of time where car think stops sign and "right of way" do not count if you ride a bike. And seems surprised when you fume at them ("You should not be in the road , it is for car only fucktard")

    - Let's make a left turn here while on this 40MpH road without indicating or looking, I'm sure the car behind me can stop in time
    My colleagues fumes about cars doing that all the time, never putting the blinker light. So I am guessing ehre it is actually a widespread "sport" of forgetting for everybody to put a indication. On the other hand nearly 1/3 of the time if I put my arm to the left, the guys whicha re up to 100m behind me REEVES their motor up the wazoo and accelerate to pass before I go to the left. I dunno for the US, but here once you put your harm to the elft, unless they were already engaged to pass over you, they should not accelerate , they should slow down and let the bike pass. As I said a full 1/3 of the population ignore that fully.

    - Hmm, I think I'll dig in my pocket and look for my cellphone, then start talking on the cellphone, while weaving around like a drunk idiot
    Like cars. Which is why there are so many law against driving with cellphone and so many fines distributed.

    - Hmm, I'm obviously not a great cyclist... so let me ride carelessly on a 40MpH road, fall down in the middle of the road without a helmet, and nearly cause a bunch of accidents as they try not to drive over my head.
    How often that happens ? get real.

    Oh yeah and my all time classic. old driver thinking they will brake and accelerate instead
    I was nearly killed by one guy and his wife parking in a sport car, thankfully a tree stopped the car right in its track and they were not wounded,, the car totalled, but there hadn't been the tree I would probably be in a hospital or gone.
    At least old biker are not a menace to everybody else.

    Facts is, I frankly think there are a higher number of idiot on bike than there is on car. But the idiots in cars provocate hundreds, thousands of death every year. Those in bike do not.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 04, 2013 @11:09AM (#43067753)

    For those interested, I'd recommend the book How Bad is a Banana, which examines the carbon footprint of various foods (which varies greatly).

    Fun tidbit: If you were to take your calories from asparagus (which has a big carbon footprint), riding a bike actually has a bigger carbon footprint than a city bus. Yea, I know we don't eat only asparagus, but the point is still valid: you can just look at the surface and ignore the externalities of your actions.

    Science is so awesome and this is just another example of how cool it is.

    You see science is so very cool because you can make up any bullshit theory or "fact" you want and people will believe you without hesitation as long as it sounds good. You dont need real proof to get yourself published in journals, on blogs, or even websites such as this. All you need to do is sound like what youre saying is plauseible, you dont need evidence or real world facts. And thats what todays "Science" is mostly made up of, bullcrap. People just throw out some theory, they get recognized and a good amount of them have some grant money handed over to research this idea and in the end nothing comes of it.

    "Oh yeah riding a bike makes you breath out more c02 levels as city bus because of increased heart rate and respirations" uh huh and where are the test results measuring the levels across 5000 different people of different ages from different parts of the country showing the co2 levels from sitting quietly in a bus to the ones riding a bike? What about the variables of people who are using hybrid cars, older cars, trucks, suv's and so on? What about the co2 levels put out by the people driving who also increase their output by talking on the phone, increased heart rate and respirations from road rage or singing along to the radio? And so on? Oh thats right, he didnt do any of that because he just squeezed out something that sounded good but has no real idea of what he is talking about.

    Then what about the differences in peoples metabolism? You know one person eating something has a different effect than others. Then you have age, weight, height, ethnicity and so on all effects the outcome of eating the asparagus.

    Ive read how bad is a banana and it is based 100% on NOTHING. Its all heresay and conjecture with no real proof or science in at all. But it sounds really good, the author has a way of communicating with the average person that makes him seem more intelligent than he really is.

  • by j-beda (85386) on Monday March 04, 2013 @11:17AM (#43067881) Homepage

    Actually shipping is very efficient. It can take far more fossil fuels to grow crops outside their ideal area vs transporting them.

    I guess we could all only eat things grown in a 20 mile radius, but that would be pretty limiting.

    Something like 10% of the carbon footprint of agriculture is due to transportation to the consumer. While "eating local" is generally a good idea, by itself it is not a complete solution. Winter hothouse tomatoes in Britain contribute significantly more CO2 than importing Spanish field tomatoes to Britain, for example.

  • by kamakazi (74641) on Monday March 04, 2013 @11:38AM (#43068183)

    "In any case, the representative is full of shit. When I'm walking my kid to school, and we get to the door, I can smell the exhaust of the dozens of cars sitting there. It does not smell like that from an equal number of people breathing."

    I am pretty sure it isn't the CO2 you are smelling from those cars.

    I am also pretty sure that CO2, even in concentrations that will heat the globe and drown us all in rising seas before it cooks the flesh off our bones in broiling deserts does not present an immediate health risk to individual humans.

    However the stuff you do smell in those car exhausts does present a real immediate health risk for the people who breathe it, and a cyclist doesn't emit any of those chemicals no matter how hard he pedals.

    It is starting to annoy me that the global warming hysteria (I am not a denier, global warming does appear to be a real, already occurring problem) has made all other pollution issues invisible. Yes, global warming will cause suffering, probably even in my lifetime, but the toxins we emit by burning fossil fuels have been causing individual suffering for generations. After all, CO2 is not directly toxic. Many of the other compounds released by burning fossil fuels are direct primary toxins, even in small PPM concentrations.

  • Re:Simple solution (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cant_get_a_good_nick (172131) on Monday March 04, 2013 @11:54AM (#43068415)

    I'm a relatively new Chicago driver (got my license at 33, about 8 years ago) because I walked and took public trans for a long period of my life. Chicago driving really makes you crazy. I tend to try to leave safe following distances between me and the car in front of me. In chicago if you have a safe following distance of a car length and 4 inches, there will be a new car 2" in front of your bumper in about 3 seconds. Cars passing 30mph faster than you on the right, cars cutting you off, cars honking at you at intersections because you choose not to plow through the pedestrians there...

    I've driven a few other places on vacation, including Boston (which is crazy) but no other place is as antagonistic as Chicago. It's like "how dare you be ahead of me, I'm going to cut you off".

    Oddly, Nissans and Minivans tend to be the worst out there. Cabs are predictable - they're gonna be fast, but it's about their job, so it's not about you.

"Only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core." -- Hannah Arendt.

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