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How Bad Are Bananas?: The carbon footprint of everything How Bad Are Bananas?: The carbon footprint of everything by Mike Berners-Lee
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How Bad Are Bananas? Quotes Showing 1-9 of 9
“At Booths, over one-quarter of the transport footprint comes from the very small amount of air freight in their supply chains—typically used for expensive items that perish quickly. Conversely, most of their food miles are by ship (partly because the U.K. is an island), but because ships can carry food around the world around 100 times more efficiently than planes, they account for less than 1 percent of Booths’ total footprint. The message here is that it is OK to eat apples, oranges, bananas, or whatever you like from anywhere in the world, as long as it has not been on a plane or thousands of miles by road. Road miles are roughly as carbon intensive as air miles, but in the U.K. the distances involved tend not to be too bad, whereas in North America they can be thousands of miles. Booths is a regional supermarket with just one warehouse, so their own distribution is not a big carbon deal, and they have been working hard on further improvements.”
Mike Berners-Lee, How Bad Are Bananas?: The Carbon Footprint of Everything
“Whereas CO2 is the dominant greenhouse gas overall, it accounts for only 11 percent of agricultural emissions.2 The rest is nitrous oxide (53 percent) and methane (36 percent). Nitrous oxide is 296 times more potent per pound than CO2 as a climate-change gas, and on farms it results mainly from the use of fertilizer but also from cattle pee, especially if there is excessive protein in their diet, and from the burning of biomass and fuel.3 Methane, which is 25 times more potent than CO2, is mainly emitted by cows and sheep when they belch. Some is also emitted from silage. The CO2 comes from machinery but also from the heating of greenhouses to grow crops out of season or in countries that just don’t have the right climate.”
Mike Berners-Lee, How Bad Are Bananas?: The Carbon Footprint of Everything
“Is cycling a carbon-friendly thing to do? Emphatically yes! Powered by biscuits, bananas or breakfast cereal, the bike is nearly 10 times more carbon efficient than the most efficient of petrol cars. Cycling also keeps you healthy, provided you don’t end up under a bus. (Strictly speaking, dying could be classed as a carbon-friendly thing to do but needing an operation couldn’t: see”
Mike Berners-Lee, How Bad Are Bananas?: The carbon footprint of everything
“Dairy has all the same problems of ruminant meat production, so there is little point in switching from beef to cheese. A kilo (2.2 pounds) of cheese comes in at around 13 kg CO2e, compared with around 17 kg for beef. Milk comes in at around 1.3 kg per liter or quart.”
Mike Berners-Lee, How Bad Are Bananas?: The Carbon Footprint of Everything
“Plastic is environmentally nasty as either landfill or litter because it hangs around for so long. However, it is typically not quite as energy intensive to produce as card packaging and has the advantage, from a purely carbon perspective, that when you put it in landfill, you are just sending those hydrocarbons back into the ground where they came from for long-term storage. In”
Mike Berners-Lee, How Bad Are Bananas?: The Carbon Footprint of Everything
“> Glass is energy intensive to make (or recycle), and its weight adds to the transport footprint. Cans of beer are better than bottles, as are cartons or boxes of wine. Incidentally, bottles are absolutely no better for storing wine than the more climate-friendly alternatives. > Steel and aluminum are carbon-intensive stuff, but you don’t need a great weight of them, and they’re easy to recycle. It takes only about one-tenth of the energy to recycle aluminum compared with extracting it from ore in the ground.”
Mike Berners-Lee, How Bad Are Bananas?: The Carbon Footprint of Everything
“Go seasonal, avoiding hothouses and air freight. Local, seasonal produce is best of all, but shipping is fine. As a guide, if something has a short shelf life and isn’t in season where you live, it will probably have had to go in a hothouse or on a plane. In the U.K., Canada, and more northern parts of the U.S., in January, examples are lettuce, asparagus, tomatoes, strawberries, and most cut flowers. Apples, oranges, and bananas, by contrast, almost always go on boats. Adopting this tip religiously can probably deliver a 10 percent savings on a typical diet.”
Mike Berners-Lee, How Bad Are Bananas?: The Carbon Footprint of Everything
“Nitrogen fertilizer is a significant contributor to the world’s carbon footprint. Its production is energy intensive because the chemical process involved requires both heat and pressure. Depending on the efficiency of the factory, making 1 ton of fertilizer creates between 1 and 4 tons CO2e. When the fertilizer is actually applied, between 1 and 5 percent of the nitrogen it contains is released as nitrous oxide, which is around 300 times more potent than CO2. This adds between 1.7 and 8.3 tons CO2e to the total footprint,11 depending on a variety of factors.12 Here’s how the science of it goes. All plants contain nitrogen, so if you’re growing a crop, it has to be replaced into the soil somehow or it will eventually run out. Nitrogen fertilizer is one way of doing this. Manure is another. Up to a point there can be big benefits. For some crops in some situations, the amount of produce can even be proportional to the amount of nitrogen that is used. However, there is a cut-off point after which applying more does nothing at all to the yield, or even decreases it. Timing matters, too. It is inefficient to apply fertilizer before a seed has had a chance to develop into a rapidly growing plant. Currently these messages are frequently not understood by small farmers in rural China, especially, where fertilizer is as cheap as chips and the farmers believe that the more they put on the bigger and better the crop will be. Many have a visceral understanding of the needs for high yields, having experienced hunger in their own lifetime, so it is easy to understand the instinct to spread a bit more fertilizer. After all, China has 22 percent of the world’s population to feed from 9 percent of the world’s arable land. There are other countries in which the same issues apply, although typically the developed world is more careful. Meanwhile in parts of Africa there is a scarcity of nitrogen in the soil and there would be real benefits in applying a bit more fertilizer to increase the yield and get people properly fed. One-third of all nitrogen fertilizer is applied to fields in China—about 26 million tons per year. The Chinese government believes there is scope for a 30 to 60 percent reduction without any decrease in yields. In other words, emissions savings on the order of 100 million tons are possible just by cutting out stuff that does nothing whatsoever to help the yield. There are other benefits, too. It’s much better for the environment generally, and it’s cheaper and easier for the farmers. It boils down to an education exercise... and perhaps dealing with the interests of a fertilizer industry.”
Mike Berners-Lee, How Bad Are Bananas?: The Carbon Footprint of Everything
“A common myth is that huge four-wheel-drive guzzlers are safer for their occupants. This is generally not true. They are, however, more dangerous for everyone else on the road.”
Mike Berners-Lee, How Bad Are Bananas?: The carbon footprint of everything