Monday, January 10th, 2011

The (unacknowledged) price of parking

Driving puts a burden on the environment. Burning a gallon of gas releases about 20 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere, as its carbon content mixes with the oxygen in the air —contributing to the warming of the earth’s atmosphere.

This carbon will impose large costs on the environment over the next century, including melting of glaciers, rising sea levels, torrential rains and intense drought. An analysis by the Environmental Protection Agency last year concluded that the long term damage cause by CO2 emissions today amounted to up to $69 per metric ton emitted, or some 63 cents a gallon.

But if you thought you could solve the problem by simply parking the car, think again: parking causes global warming too. Scientific American reports that civil engineers from the University of California, Berkeley estimate that there are about 800 million parking spots in the United States, about three for each of the 250 million vehicles on American roads. And all the asphalt and concrete devoted to parking space imposes an environmental cost too, adding about 10 percent to the CO2 emissions of the average car.

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