have seen a Hummer on the road, I've flipped it the bird. Secretly,
of course. Still, I can't help myself. It's not the conspicuous
wealth, but rather the poor gas mileage: since the cost of gas is
artificially low in terms of paying back the true impact to the
environment, Hummer drivers are getting over on the rest of us.
I've recently added a second car that I give the bird to: the Toyota
Prius. Not because Prius owners tend to flaunt their enviro-chicness,
although that is certainly annoying in my book. But because Priuses
are actually worse for the environment than Hummers.
You heard right. It's not from fuel consumption Priuses obviously run
circles around Hummers in terms of efficiency. According to a recent
Philadelphia Inquirer editorial, the nickel used to make the engines
in Priuses is mined in Canada, refined in Wales, remanufactured in
China, and then shipped to Japan. That's a lot of carbon emissions
along the way. The mines in Canada, too, are massive belchers of
sulphur dioxide, which have killed huge swaths of trees and induced
A consulting firm recently calculated "total energy cost per mile"
over the life of cars, which, if you think about it, is a much better
metric than "miles per gallon" for how eco-friendly a car really is.
In other words, they factored in not only the driving part but also
the impact of planning, building, selling, and disposing the vehicle.
The Hummer came out at $1.95 per mile. The Prius? $3.25 per mile, or
2/3 higher than the Hummer.
In my book, that sort of environmental damage warrants the bird.