Monday, May 12, 2008

Debunking O'Toole #3,520

Mr. Setty at is debunking Randal's latest try to put down light rail yet again. This time the claim is that a Prius is more energy efficient:
With most renewable sources such as wind, solar and hydroelectric, "gross energy" is essentially meaningless in this "Prius vs. Electric Transit" argument, except that efficient extraction of available energy keeps the price of the power obtained down. Taking O'Toole's reasoning to its logical extreme, if wind and solar only captures 10% of the available energy, or a hydroelectric project only captures 25% of the energy available, he'd still report absurdly high BTU's expended. Never mind that in these cases, nature still radiates this energy into Earth's environment--whether humans choose to tap into it or not.


Chris said...

In Washington State transportation represents about half of our carbon emissions and the bulk of our degree of dependence on petroleum. Now I won't knock hybrids... too much. They're more efficient than regular cars, but they still have a tailpipe and they take up a lot of space in comparison with transit.

Electrified transit is much more efficient for handling large numbers of people. If you have an electrified rail vehicle operating at capacity, you can get a heck of a lot of passenger-km/megajoule, beyond the farthest reaches of the theoretical technical efficiency of the most efficient hybrid vehicles (0.05 MJ/pkm) .

And in Washington State electricity is more likely going to be from something that's carbon neutral such as wind, solar, or hydro - displacing essentially 100% of transport oil consumption and carbon emissions.

arcady said...

And in Washington, some of the transit is operated by real live Electric Vehicles, better known as trolley coaches in Seattle, soon to be joined by light rail, and of course they're both more efficient than hybrid cars. But the wonderful thing about transit is that even if
it has the exact same efficiency per passenger-mile as a car, it affects land-use and travel patterns so as to reduce the passenger-miles travelled, and reduce energy that way. Of course, that's exactly what O'Toole hates about it, because he and his think-tank buddies want us all to have to buy cars and waste our lives driving them around suburbs.

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

I agree Arcady. He doesn't want to acknowledge what the true benefits of transit are. More walking, more biking, and more community.

fpteditors said...

arcady has it exactly right. The problem is not just the auto, it is autosprawl. If tomorrow every car was an electric car, we would still have a monumental problem.