February 5, 2020

F-150 Mile Equivalents, FMEs”

Americans bought 909,330 F-150’s last year, which is more than the number of Silverado’s (585k), Camry’s (343k), or RAV4s (427k). They outsold everything.

When a gallon of gas is burned, approximately 20.1 pounds of CO2 are emitted into the air. That’s 9,117 grams of CO2 equivalents [CO2e] per gallon of gas.

Since F-150’s average about 18mpg (optimistically), ~536.29 grams CO2e are emitted for each mile driven. (This excludes the cost of building and selling and transporting the car, it excludes upstream costs of gas, it excludes parking and asphalt and everything else that goes along with it.)

I propose using this marginal cost of driving a mile in a F-150 as a metric to express the carbon emissions of everyday life.

We could express the carbon impact of riding in an Uber, taking a flight, drinking a cup of coffee, riding the elevator, or ordering clothes in terms of F-150 Mile Equivalents, or FMEs.”

For example, what’s the FME of charging my laptop?

In California, the grid efficiency is 841g of CO2e per kWh of electricity. Or, 0.841g of CO2 per Wh.

So it takes 48.9g of CO2e to fully charge the 58.2 Wh battery in my MacBook Pro.

My laptop’s FME is 10.97 charges per 1 F-150 mile.

I’m visualizing the exhaust of an F-150 trucking up a hill as I type this out.


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