Who’s bad? Michael Jackson uttered those famous words in 1987 and spent the next 20 years answering his own question. Outside the court of public opinion many of us have misconceptions about who’s bad in the world of environmental issues. Our crack staff of talented reporters (see: me) set out to discern the oft-misunderstood aspects of environmentally (un)friendly behavior in our everyday lives.
Myth: Tearing down the highway at ungodly speeds is better for fuel efficiency because it increases the speed in which you arrive at your destination.
Fact: Due to air resistance, which increases at the rate of velocity squared, traveling a mere 5 miles an hour over the speed limit decreases your fuel economy by an average of 6 percent.
Myth: Turning off and restarting a car requires more energy than idling.
Fact: Idling for more than ten seconds uses more gas than restarting the engine. Also, and this is crucial for us Central New Yorkers, idling is not an effective way to warm-up an automobile. A vehicle should idle for no more than 30 seconds before taking to the road, even in the coldest of temperatures.
Myth: Motorcycles are better for the environment than cars.
Fact: Motorcycles tend to get substantially better gas mileage than automobiles but according to a study recently published in the journal of Environmental Sciences and Technology motorcycles emit “16 times more hydrocarbons, three times more carbon monoxide and a ‘disproportionately high’ amount of other air pollutants compared to a car.”
Myth: Living in the country = Being green
Fact: City living is far more efficient in terms of energy and water use. New York City is the “greenest” city in the United States and cities in general require far less land, fewer automobiles and use little or no pesticides and fertilizers. Further, gallon for gallon lawn mower engines contribute 93 times more smog-forming emissions than 2006 cars and concrete tends to grow much slower than grass.
Myth: Green household cleaning products carry the label “all-natural” or “organic”
Fact: While this may be true in some cases, government regulation for such terms is not very strict. A product may be substantially less “natural” than it claims. Try to avoid products that contain the words “Danger” or “Caution” as these products are rarely environmentally friendly.
They Say Sky’s the Limit
And to me that’s really true
And my friends you have
Just wait ‘til I get through
Let’s hope Mr. Jackson’s histrionics are through, and hopefully after this article, so will all of your environmentally unfriendly behavior.