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Be Green: Drive

When it comes to saving the environment, things are often not as simple as they seem at first blush.

Take, for instance, the debate about paper bags vs. plastic bags. For a number of years, anyone who opted for plastic bags at the grocery store risked the scorn of environmentalists. Now, it seems that the consensus has swung the other direction — once a more careful cost accounting is done.

The same sort of uncertainty hangs over the choice of disposable diapers vs. cloth diapers.

At least some choices are beyond reproach environmentally. It is clearly better for the environment to walk to the corner store rather than to drive there. Right?

Now even this seemingly obvious conclusion is being called into question by Chris Goodall via John Tierney’s blog. And Chris Goodall is no right-wing nut; he is an environmentalist and author of the book How to Live a Low-Carbon Life.

Tierney writes:

If you walk 1.5 miles, Mr. Goodall calculates, and replace those calories by drinking about a cup of milk, the greenhouse emissions connected with that milk (like methane from the dairy farm and carbon dioxide from the delivery truck) are just about equal to the emissions from a typical car making the same trip. And if there were two of you making the trip, then the car would definitely be the more planet-friendly way to go.