And Salem Weekly followed up on some social media posting to note that our Brooks garbage incinerator is a huge greenhouse gas polluter.
But there's an element of comparison that might be missing. (The goal here is to sketch out an order-of-magnitude estimate, a back-of-the-envelope calculation. If you know of a more precise reckoning, do share it!)
Here are the top five polluters from the article with the number of tons reported as emissions:
- Covanta Marion, Inc. 160,517
- Kettle Foods, Inc. 8,491
- Bruce Packing Company 8,152
- Oregon State Penitentiary 7,127
- Norpac Foods, Inc. 6,659
But even the incinerator emits less than our daily driving.
When the Corvallis MPO conducted a greenhouse gas pollution assessment, they estimated that each person (so on a per capita basis, not per car or driver), was responsible for 2.2 tons of greenhouse gas pollution from cars and light trucks in 2010.
So Salem's population is about 160,000, right? That means our driving alone generates about twice as much greenhouse gas pollution as the incinerator.
And if gas consumption is going up, even with more electrics and more efficient motors the emissions may be still more.
ODOT estimates that the total pollution from transportation is even higher:
travel of Oregonians and movement of goods consumed by Oregon’s households and businesses produce a large amount of GHG emissions; estimated to be approximately 24 million metric tons per year in 2010.So personal driving in Salem alone counts for a little more than 300,000 tons of pollution per year, and Salem's proportion of the statewide 24 million total is about 1 million total tons per year from "travel and movement of goods consumed." That suggests "movement of goods consumed" creates another 700,000 tons. (700,000 seems high for this, it's true. But again, this is a back-of-the-envelope figure. If you know of a more precise calculation, please do point it out in the comments.)
All together, that's a lot more than the 160,000 tons from the incinerator, nearly an order-of-magnitude more!
That's an important reason we should embrace, and even intensify, our existing policies to reduce total driving - trip lengths and trip frequency - in addition to consuming less.
|There are many reasons to be more passionate about these|
Flashing Beacons at Crosswalks Imperiled?
|During installation on Court Street in 2012|
|via Twitter (see whole thread)|