You’ll recall how climate change is happening and how it dooms us all and how we’re almost certainly to blame for it. I say almost certainly on account of those three Texan scientists holed up in the Fox News bunker; two of them dermatologists sifting through climate data handwritten by Esso, and one of them a theoretical linguist researching the outer limits of the word ‘consensus’. You’ll recall, too, my recent struggle to buy a less polluting vehicle that hilariously resulted in me getting screwed by a used car dealer, losing a load of money, losing the car he sold me, briefly fearing for my life and ending up with a wreck that was significantly more polluting than the one it replaced. How I laughed. This thing was spewing 156g of carbon dioxide per kilometre, a failure so polluting I covered my face in shame every time I drove past Al Gore’s house hoping to catch a glimpse of him undressing for bed.
However, with this big fat social work job and an actual salary for the first time in two years, I figured now was the time to set things right. Although not to the extent of using public transport. That’s a colossal sell out, I know, but I did my last placement on public transport and lost about two hours a day to dicking around on tardy buses and feeling slightly vulnerable in dodgy neighbourhoods. When you’ve told someone you’re taking their kids and then stand at a bus stop outside their living room window your pulse does tend to quicken somewhat.
That was the first of many compromises. Zero emission cars are so far out of my price range if I even showed interest in one I’d be laughed off the lot with no recourse to a rich, handsome John to give me cash and teach those salesmen a thing or two, as is the case for heart-of-gold prostitutes. Hybrids are less expensive but no less ungettable thanks to a hefty load of student debt. We were left with a fossil fuelled transport machine, severely limiting both the amount of good I could do and the corresponding level of smugness I could reasonably be allowed to exhibit.
I started looking at the lowest emission fossil fuel cars around and realised my best hope lay in the tiniest engine I could get in the newest car I could afford. The kind of engine that roars like a moth’s trump and believes firmly in the idea that a combination of slow and steady will win the race. Mrs Zero wasn’t going for that, however, her latent boy racerism outing itself with demands for a bigger, faster engine. Veering between the categories of compromise, sell-out and Nick Clegg I ended up with a 1.6 litre engine attached to a car that was new enough to spew only 119g of carbon per kilometre. Plus it’s diesel, meaning it’s slightly less polluting and allows me to give passers by a spot of cancer. It’s a saving of 37g per kilometre which, with the 1200 kilometres I’ve driven so far, adds up to about 444 kilograms of carbon dioxide saved. If every driver in the country did the same we’d be talking about a saving of billions, even with Clarkson still fannying around in his orphan powered smog machines. So while it seemed, at first, that I‘d achieved very little it turns out I’ve taken the first step in a billion gram journey. Even if I did drive it in a fairly polluting car and you can’t measure distance by weight.
Photo credit: The Zero