Aventador versus the cow.


It’s been quite a while since I posted here. I don’t really have an excuse, I got busy and ran out of interesting things to talk about.

To break this, I’ve decided it’s time for a more real world post:

For a while now I’ve been hearing people prattle on about global warming and how disastrous cars are for the environment. This is quite frustrating to me, because I love cars the bigger the engine, the better….normally. I could get distracted here talking about a Porsche versus a BMW but I think that’s a bit off topic.

All of this prattle, along with my love, makes me out to be a really evil person…normally I’d be ok with this EXCEPT I’ve never seen any proof that my fascination with orgasmic V8’s is making a difference to the environment…SO I did some research.

Living in New Zealand, there are very few people and very many sheep. Somewhere between these two amounts, lie the population of cows. I’m therefore going to compare the effect of a cows rear end to that of a cars.

(Actually it’s comparing the rear end and front end of a cow to the rear end of a car….But that didn’t sound as good)

A car produces CO2 (Carbon Dioxide). Obviously, this amount is dependent upon the car. To be on the side of the cow, we’ll assume that all NZers drive my car – a 1996 Hilux Surf with a fantastically powerful 3.6L V6 – which gives 171.8 g per kilometre driven. (As an aside, the new Lamborghani Aventador purportedly produces 398 g per kilomtre, a car with over 5 times the power of mine, weighing only 200 kg less than mine…and it only produces 2.3 times the CO2 as mine…that’s quite impressive!).

Based on some results from NZTA, we drive somewhere between 11 and 13 thousand kms a year. I’m going to assume that every NZer drives 13000 kms a year, in an evil 4×4. That’s 2233.4 kilograms of CO2 a year from EACH NZer….there are 4.5 million of us, so that’s around 10 BILLION kilograms of CO2 a year.

That’s quite a lot!

Now, a cow produces somewhere between 100 and 200 kilograms of methane a year (I can’t find enough resources to accurately denote this figure. After all, A Very Big Cow is likely to going to produce more than a calf….). To be on the side of the cow, we’ll assume that NZ cows are very healthy and produce 100 kilograms of methane a year each. There are 4.2 million (as at 2007) dairy cows in New Zealand – that’s a total of 400 MILLION kg’s of methane per year from all the dairy cows.

WHAT????? CARS ARE WORSE THEN COWS?????

Well…no. You see, cars produce CO2, cows produce Methane. Methane is 20 times worse for the environment than CO2.

so if we convert methane to CO2 (by assuming methane =20 CO2)

cows=8 billion kgs of CO2
cars =10 billion kgs of CO2

I want to point out a few things I’ve ignored in this post:

  • I’ve only looked at dairy cows, and only those in 2007.
  • I’ve assumed that every NZer has a car (NZTA mentions there are closer to 4 million vehicles in NZ)
  • I’ve assumed all cars have a CO2 emission of 171.8g/kg. The average is closer to 150
  • I’ve assumed ALL cows produce only 100kg of methane a year.
  • I’ve not considered the methane produced from cow pats.

I wish I had the “power” to collect all the accurate data – to get the actual amount of CO2 from every car in NZ, and the actual methane produced by every dairy cow. I think the results would be “shocking”.

I suspect you will find that it is more environmentally friendly to kill a cow and drive a Lamborghani Aventador than it is to go vegan and bike everywhere. Or at least, close enough to not make a difference.

(If you would like details of the facts within this post, let me know and I’ll send them through to you. If you find any mistakes, let me know, and I’ll fix them!)

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