Question for Ed Orcutt: is this biker emitting more or less carbon than a car? This is not a trick question. PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons
Ed Orcutt a Republican in Washington State's legislature, made one of the dumbest comments you will ever hear by a politician (seriously): that bikers should be taxed for the extra carbon dioxide that they exhale. Orcutt vomited this idiocy in an email to a bike shop owner, who had written Orcutt to oppose a proposed 5% tax on bikes over $500. The store owner added that bike riders are doing a public service by not driving, and helping the environment.
Orcutt responded that bike riders have an "increased heart rate and respiration," the act of riding a bike "results in greater emissions of carbon dioxide from the rider."
"Since CO2 is deemed to be a greenhouse gas and a pollutant, bicyclists are actually polluting when they ride," Orcutt wrote.
Orcutt rescinded his comment the next day. Kind of.
"My point was that by not driving a car, a cyclist was not necessarily having a zero-carbon footprint," Orcutt said in the email, according to Reuters. "In looking back, it was not a point worthy of even mentioning so, again, I apologize."
Alright, he took it back, and admitted the point was not worth mentioning, but he also clarified something else: HE WAS BEING SERIOUS!
I know that politicians have to deal with a lot of different issues, and they don't know everything. For instance, one wouldn't necessarily expect the Governor of Alaska to have any real knowledge of foreign policy, but that doesn't mean they have to offer up opinions on topics they know nothing about. And Orcutt clearly knows nothing about CO2 emissions. Yes, humans exhale CO2, and yes, exercising humans exhale more CO2, and it's true that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. What's also true is that the extra CO2 from a biker is less than negligible when compared to the emissions from a car. If Orcutt feels we should worry about the heavy breathing of bicyclists, he would surely support an across the board carbon tax, subsidies for insulation and better efficiency standards, right?
I'm piling on here, because environmentalists are on the right side of history, and if you want to disagree, that's fine, but do it with actual facts, not something absurd that you just thought of on the spot.