Archive for November, 2008

Dear Pablo,

I recently heard a radio ad by a freight train company, claiming that it moves 1 ton of goods 422 miles on 1 gallon of fuel. Can this be true? And how does it compare to my car’s fuel economy?

The freight company is CSX and its exact claim is, “Trains can move a ton of freight more than 423 miles on a single gallon of fuel.” While this number sounds astounding, and the freight company cites it to show off its “environmental stewardship,” the metric used is quite different than the “miles per gallon” we use with passenger cars. (more…)

Dear Pablo,

I’ll be blunt: Is my big new flat-screen TV killing the planet?

What you are referring to is the use of nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) in manufacturing LCD televisions. Back in 1992, NF3 was seen as an environmentally friendly alternative to the ozone-damaging perfluorocarbons that the semiconductor industry used in the plasma etching of silicon wafers. While this change undoubtedly had an impact on the success of the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer, the international agreement to plug the ozone hole, it is now being blamed for contributing to climate change. NF3 may not damage the ozone layer, but it has been shown to be 17,200 times worse for the climate than the main climate change culprit, carbon dioxide. (more…)

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