Higher Gas Prices=Not So Terrible?

by kespeland on June 19, 2008

USA Today reports that Americans drove 30 billion fewer miles between November 2007 and April 2008 than they did during the same period the previous year. It’s the biggest drop since the late ’70s oil shortage.

What the reporters don’t mention is the environmental impact of all of those miles not driven. The EPA has a helpful equation you can use to figure this out. And I’ve done the math for you: 30 billion fewer miles driven kept nearly 25 million pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

(Here’s the calculation: (VMT/passenger vehicle avg. MPG) x CO2 per gallon x (100/95) /1000 = lbs. of CO2.  I used approximate MPG (23, instead of 23.9) and approximate CO2 (19 instead of 19.4).  So, with the actual figures, it’s:
(30 billion vehicle miles/23 miles) x 19 x .001 = 24,782,609 lbs. of CO2)

The reporters do put that 30 billion in perspective:

“The decline in total miles traveled, though only 1%, means that many drivers are cutting back far more because the number of drivers and vehicles grows by 1% to 2% a year. Americans are driving about the same number of miles as in 2005, when the USA had 8 million fewer people, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Federal Highway Administration data. The declines are sharpest on rural roads, indicating that people are cutting back on long-distance and vacation trips.”

I wonder if that decline on rural roads also means that poor, rural families aren’t able to get as many places as they need to go. With one of the highest poverty rates in the nation, poorer Kentuckians are already spending a higher percentage of their income on fuel. Are you driving less or changing your transportation habits? Let us know.

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