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July 17th, 2013 MARTY SMITH | Dr. Know
 

Dr. Know: Carbon Footprints in the Sand

Is cycling worse for the environment than driving?

drknowILLUSTRATION: Hawk Krall

Is cycling worse for the environment than driving? The theory I’ve heard is that cycling requires energy from food, which needs to be grown, transported and cooked, and doing all that is worse than using fossil fuels. What’s your take?

—Mia Birkenstock

I’d be more interested in answering your question, Mia, if I weren’t so totally baked. You see, this column represents the 200th edition of “Dr. Know,” and I feel compelled to celebrate such round-number occasions by getting completely faded.

Some of you might be wondering: Why didn’t I do something similar for my 100th column? Actually, I did; you just couldn’t tell because I spent the whole week under a blanket making a turtle out of putty.

Anyway, what was your question? Oh, right; how bikes are actually more fossil-fuel-intensive than SUVs. Well, I’m sure it will come as a surprise to approximately no one that this argument is total bullshit. (Though I will acknowledge that “fossil” is a really funny word. Fossil, fossil, fossil.)

Yes, you use the energy from the food you eat to do things like riding a bicycle. And, yes, the food you eat has a carbon footprint. But the problem is, you’re going to keep eating whether you ride a bike or not.

The anti-biking argument holds water only in the very narrow sense that, to the extent that you are a human being, the world would be a better place if you dropped dead. Stop biking, stop eating, stop breathing—all of that will definitely help.

The truth is we’re still monkeys, and more monkeys mean more mess. If you’re going to the drugstore, it really doesn’t matter if you bike or drive a Hummer, as long as you remember to pick up condoms while you’re there. Oh, and Doritos! Grab some Doritos!


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