Maybe we should just forget about global warming for a little bit and try to remember how dirty the air is from gas vehicles.
i own one of the xiaomi scooters initially deployed by bird and mentioned in the article, and for little round-trip errands, it's hard to beat the convenience. you can ride literally door-to-door, without even looking for parking, since you can bring it right into most businesses (even bikes don't have that convenience in most cases).
Scooters aren't displacing cars--it's bikes and walking that scooters are replacing. And, relative to those, scooters are a big loser.
The interesting part is the fact that scooters look like a loser relative to buses and mopeds. In particular, losing relative to a moped is quite surprising.
I would also point out that generally when I see scooters being picked up, the pickup truck being used is generally pretty old--meaning that it is contributing a not small amount to air pollution.
This is simply wrong. It doesn't take into account the CO2 footprint of the person doing the biking or walking. Biking is more efficient than walking per km. Since anyone biking, running, walking would be eating more to cover the exercise this can have a significant footprint based on what their diet looks like. A running beef eater vs a running vegan looks very different.
I used to bike 65km/d round trip to work. Wonderful for my mind and body, but I had to eat at least one extra meal every day for the periods I was active, around 200-300g total.
Normally I would replenish with fried eggs and potatoes at a guesstimated 4x (CO2 equivalent mass ratio), which is (meh) reasonable? Giving around 13g/km footprint for biking (just from my food).
Assuming I would be eating lamb or beef at somewhere around 30x impact, that extra meal would give a biking footprint around 92g/km just from my food!
Correct my numbers or methods if you disagree.
: Comparison to my (tiny) car at the time burning 4.5l/100km, (2.3kg CO2 / litre petrol), the car would be around 103g/km, which is not much higher than me on a bicycle if I kept a shitty diet !!
If you do manage to convince someone to take their car rather than their bike then how can you be sure they are not going sneak off and get their daily exercise some other way? Normally exercise from walking/biking reduces the need for other exercise. In a sense the extra food cost is free.
The total impact of the fossile fuel production chain is something I've been looking for, but not found any good numbers on yet.
I assume that petrol from saudi shallow wells is drastically different from canadian tar sand?
Anyone with reliable data on this?
Older data from 2013 regarding tar sand production is much worse
Then, in the end, general refineries have ca 85% energy efficiency for petrol and diesel, discounting other factors.
This is carbon neutral because all the CO2 we exhale comes from atmospheric CO2 captured by plants (and then through the food chain up to us).
Now, of course food production has a carbon footprint because of harvesting, transport, processing, etc. but it quickly gets hugely complex to measure.
In any case, for the purpose of comparison they obviously restricted to the impact of the mean of transport. Your food or your carbon footprint in general does not change anything about that.
If I start running to work, I have to consume more food. If I have a vegan diet I am eating the direct result of photosynthesis. That is, we could imagine the embodied carbon of my apple resulted directly from my previous exhalation of CO2. I do not dispute that some part of the 'life cycle of food' is a closed loop in this regard.
Yet I can't just 'eat an apple'. I also require someone to grow the apple (with fertilizer and its GHG emitting production chain), protect it (likely with pesticides), clean and package, transport, store and sell the apple. By the time I chew into the apple I have already contributed to the demand of GHG emitting processes.
So if you want to rigorously compare scooters with walking, running or riding a horse (all which affect quantity of food consumed), you need to take into account the carbon footprint of food. Just as when you look at GHG emissions of fuel, you don't just look at its combustion - you look at the supply chain.
If you only look at where carbon is added (e.g. fossil fuel combustion) or removed (e.g. carbon forest sinks) from the cycle, you miss out on learning about how individual actions or choices affect the rate at which addition or subtraction occurs.
 - https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Henk_Westhoek/publicati...
But, as I wrote in my previous comment, the industrial production chain may not be, and in fact isn't.
In any case, this is a red herring because that makes no difference when comparing means of personal transportation: Whether I walk or ride an electric scooter I will have to eat very close to the same, close enough to be a rounding error.
Most people probably don't, and many people could afford to both run to work and eat less.
People also generally cannot sustain eating less continually but obviously there's a health benefit from some changes.
The ecosystem approach to food energy and carbon brings some surprising convulsions too. For example wrapping and selling fruit in plastic bags is better than buying them loose. This doesn't make sense unless you think about the whole picture.
I suspect that the recent HN craze for indiscriminate feel good tree planting is also ecologically and sustainably suspect if looked at holistically.
Yet when a human exercises, they breathe more, and produce more CO2. There is an internal carbon cycle that must be maintained. If any person exercises more without changing their diet, their rate of 'carbon accumulation' (to be kind) will decrease. For someone like myself who isn't in the habit of accumulating carbon - a long-term impact of riding to work will be that I will lose weight . As a carbon-based life form, if I don't change this to be non-negative, I'm clearly down a path of self-destruction, and will need to increase my food intake eventually.
 - https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/f407/588843385c964c7de0bc9e...
But it is true that if I walk into a forest and eat a wild grown apple, that CO2 is then from and in the normal carbon cycle and not any added fossile carbon.
Perhaps it would be better if I clarified my statement as GHG-(CO2 equivalent)?
Plants do their best to suck up all the CO2 in the atmosphere. Yet CO2 is being added to the atmosphere faster than photosynthesis can capture it. This is why CO2 levels are rising. Human activity contributes a lot to the addition of CO2 (and equivalent greenhouse gases) and plants can't keep up with us.
Yes, but fossile carbon is out of the carbon cycle, stored underground until we dig it up? This is a fairly fundamental pillar in the discussion around environmental impact of GHG emissions?
No, I'm saying that this is irrelevant when comparing means of personal transportation...
The fact remain that the biological food chain is carbon neutral. As I already said, and as you also mentionend, it is the industrial production chain that is not.
Just existing takes the majority of energy for warm blooded creatures so the percentage increase due to an increase of physical activity is relatively small.
Physical activity is the cure for many medical conditions. Medical treatment has a carbon cost, probably a significant one.
Rice has pretty high carbon footprint.
For example, producing an EV currently involves releasing a bunch of CO2.
I can't name all of the reasons why but I imagine it'll be stuff like mining equipment being fossil powered, the trucks that transport the cars, the power that goes into refining stuff, etc.
Eventually all of that can be made carbon neutral; the only processes I can see potentially being an issue would be if like, actually digging the soil released CO2.
It would be literally impossible for the first EV to be made using only renewable energy by definition because it's the first.
Location matters too.
Sweden's electrical grid averages ~10-20g of CO2 per kWh because it's mostly nuclear/hydro.
The UK is at about 300g.
Trucks, vans, trains, etc should all be electrified as soon as possible. A last final burst of CO2 in order to create all of that, then we stop, perhaps sequester some, and off we go.
One can hope.
We need to sequester decades worth of output already, and soon, to avoid truly catastrophic effects within the next 100-200y. Just going neutral will not be enough.
Alternatively, 3 hours, 2 trains and a bus away.
It's completely impractical with a small child.
Nevertheless, it's another example of cars creating the problems that they solve - this kind of disparity can only be caused by a terrible public transport infrastructure, which in turn is caused by inadequate funding, which is caused by lack of demand due to cars (and lobbying of course). In most places in Europe, bus+train is much faster than driving for long journeys, especially intercity. Trains can go at speeds than would be unsafe on roads, and don't have to worry about traffic jams, while buses are frequent and often get dedicated lanes in cities.
Having said that, the way you explain this sounds like some sort of extreme first world problems thing. You don't need any of that, it's just convenient.
I spent almost my entire childhood brought up on crappy public transport (e.g. not London, Tokyo, etc) in a medium sized town. Things like "staying overnight" just barely ever happened. I wouldn't have remembered it even if they did, so who cares?
I also have a motorbike.
No car no car seat.... Baby goes into pram - unless being carried in sling. Nappy bag hangs on pram. Other baby stuff goes under pram or in side thing. You may sometimes need a backpack. I don't recommend backpack because it limits baby in sling opportunity.
And we employ a Sherpa to carry our own luggage right?
It sounds like your circumstances require a car for some journeys. But some journeys does not have to mean all journeys.
Taxis should exist for the disabled or high profile targets.
In most of the world by land mass though cars aren't really an issue other than splitting nature corridors and maybe stuff like microplastics from tyres (it seems plausible for that to be fixed).
I have heard the idea floated that we should clump together in one continent or something and rewild the rest of Earth. I don't see that ever being politically palatable, but it is out there.
If you care about the environment cut back your consumption of new shit. Go fix that bike in your garage and ride that to work.
Not for cars, not by a long shot. The vast majority of carbon emissions of a car are after it rolls off the assembly line.
The carbon footprint of a new car:
6 tonnes CO2e: Citroen C1, basic spec
17 tonnes CO2e: Ford Mondeo, medium spec
35 tonnes CO2e: Land Rover Discovery, top of the range
Secondly you (and the article) are assuming that the car gets scrapped rather than sold secondhand when the owner replaces it.
Thirdly, what are the CO2 costs of maintenance? This is important in particular if you believe the manufacturing is the primary concern, because the replacement parts have to be manufactured.
 I just checked Mondeo and am confused why their CO2 emissions vary from 99 to 254 g/km — why does such all broad range of vehicles share the same model name?
> If we do this, and then divide by the total emissions of the auto industry by the total amount of money spent on new cars, we reach a footprint of 720kg CO2e per £1000 spent.
as true by default. They don't show why would that relation be true either. For example, you can find options that cost you many thousands more and amount to a few extra chips and different software.
I am amazed why the hell it's not illegal and it not saving anything as these are fun rides.
The vandalism they refer to will certainly be reduced as people come to accept them. There can be charging stations around the city where riders can plug them into to get a discount or credits, reducing the need to collect them with a truck and drive them around. I imagine there are ways to mitigate people abusing them, such as making them easier to replace damaged parts or making them better able to detect when users are throwing them around and such.
If you want to be green, use a bike or some non-motorized scooter.
if you are saying it takes 4 years of daily use the make the manufacture of a 60kWh battery greener than driving, then it only takes ~80 days of use for a scooter battery.
Meanwhile most of the journeys on scooters where I live are replacing walking or cycling...
Of course lithium batteries aren't CO neutral.
Escooters are a great transitional device.
This title is misleading and a perfect example of the backlash any new tech that challenges the status quo faces.
A more accurate headline would be “Dockless e-scooters...” but instead the author has lumped together owner driven e-scooters, which have very little carbon impact, with rentable scooters, which by themselves don’t have a large carbon impact but the ecosystem around them does.
I have an electric unicycle I absolutely love and recommend the use of personal electric transport to everyone. But scooter sharing is dumb and makes cities look trashy.
Also, they’re not always collected by cars. I was in Vienna recently, and saw someone collecting electric scooters by piling them onto another electric scooter.
So no they are not saving energy.
So they are displacing cars.
How much CO2 does an electric scooter emit per passenger kilometre over its lifetime? What journeys are they used for? How much CO2 would be emitted by the same people performing the same journeys by alternate means of transport if the scooters did not exist?
Imagine this. You tell me people can't get to the moon because it's expensive. Then I say the majority of people I talk to have been to the moon.
Is my argument better because it's "data" based versus your rhetoric based argument? No it's not even close. And an argument backed up by data is not somehow more meaningful than all others forms of argument. You can go look to nearly ever mathematical field for proof of that.
Besides that anecdotes are not data. They aren't just not high quality data, they are not data. You cannot just state something you may or may not have truthfully heard and then call it data.
>How much CO2 does an electric scooter emit per passenger kilometre over its lifetime? What journeys are they used for? How much CO2 would be emitted by the same people performing the same journeys by alternate means of transport if the scooters did not exist?
This is an impossibly complex set of questions. But what you're basically saying is the scooters emit less (CO2 is not the only emissions that matters) than whatever transportation would have been used otherwise.
This isn't true. This is literally what the article this thread is about says.
Suffice to say it’s not even internally consistent, more than once. This is not a useful situation for anyone concerned.