Which do you think emits more CO2: four guys running one mile, or four guys driving one mile in a hybrid car? If you've read the headline, then you already know the answer is quite surprising.
Alberto E. Minetti, a professor of physiology at the University of Milan, calculated the carbon dioxide emitted by four men running, walking, and riding bicycles, and compared it to the CO2 emitted by gas, diesel, and hybrid cars. As it turns out, a hybrid car carrying four men releases slightly less CO2 per mile than would be breathed out by the same four dudes running.
Oh, and in case you're wondering, this wouldn't work for women because thanks to their lower average body mass, girls just pollute less. I mean, obviously.
Now, in what's probably going to be a futile attempt to forestall comments calling this whole thing idiotic, I would like to point out that this study is little more than a direct comparison of the amount of CO2 per mile emitted by a hybrid car carrying four men to the amount of CO2 per mile emitted by four men running. It's absolutely true that this does not take into account the CO2 produced when the car was constructed, when the gas it burns was refined from oil, and so forth.
That said, it's equally true that this does not take into account the amount of CO2 produced by the infrastructure required to support a typical urban human, nor the fact that cars can be turned off so that they produce no CO2 at all, which is harder to do with people, at least on a temporary basis.
So what should you take away from this overly simplistic comparison? Maybe just that sometimes, modern cars are really not as evil for the environment as they're made out to be, especially if they're used in efficient ways.
Photo by Flickr user Martineric