City Desk

What Do D.C. and Benin Have in Common?

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Yes, that Benin. Bear with me on this one, folks. It's going to take a minute, but I'll get there.

1. WTOP reported this morning on the Census Bureau's research on travel patterns in the D.C. metro area. The findings: of the region's 2.2 million workers, about 1.5 million commute alone, and about 600,000 carpool or use public transit. The average commute time was about 32 minutes.

2. The average yearly carbon footprint of each of these commutes is about 1.75 tons of carbon dioxide, according to my rough calculations. (That's using a 14.4 mile commute–roughly the round trip from K Street to Bethesda. 14.4 miles yield .007 tons of carbon at 20 miles per gallon. .007 multiplied by 250 work days a year gets you 1.75 tons.)

3. With 1,415,834 people commuting alone, 1.75 tons per commuter is a total of 2,477,709 tons. Add in the carpool and public transit folks at half the rate of emission, and you've got yourself a grand total of 3,002,709 tons of carbon dioxide.

4. Scroll down this list of CO2 emissions by nation, and you'll find that number 127, Benin, emits 3,109,000 tons a year. The D.C. metro area's collective daily commute causes the same amount of environmental destruction as day-to-day life in all of Benin! Yeah! (And the D.C. numbers represent only the actual commute, not other major sources of emission like electricity, food consumption, road trips, and all that jazz.)

Other nations with smaller carbon footprints: Palestine, New Caledonia, Madagascar, Namibia, and 78 others.

(You can find the official United Nations stats here.)

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  • nivin

    hmmm. intresting. But would you like to live in Benin, Palestine, New Caledonia, Madagascar, Namibia, or the 78 others.

  • ross

    Its probably also worth noting that Benin has 9 million people in it. Considerably more than the 2.2 million that manage to emit as much during their commute as Benin does for everything

  • Andrew Beaujon

    There's a country called Palestine?

  • Chris Lewis

    That's debatable, for sure, but "Palestine" is how it appears on the U.N. statistics.