An oil slick is worth a million Priuses and other numbers from the Gulf Oil Spill
The exact amount of oil that is still spewing into the Gulf of Mexico from BP’s broken tap is a number under some dispute, but the mess could be increasing at a rate of a million gallons a day. Or, as the WaPo put it, “roughly one Valdez spill every week.” So, how much gasoline has been wasted by all that oil escaping into the ocean? One way to measure it is the way Green Car Reports did: by asking how many Toyota Prius hybrids would you need to sell to offset the loss? Their answer: almost a million Priuses a day.
The number comes from these calculations:
- On gallon of crude = about a half gallon of gasoline, so the spill is wasting 500,000 gallons a day.
- An average U.S. car goes 10,000 miles a year and gets, say, 25 miles per gallon.
- A 50 mpg Prius, by comparison, uses 200 fewer gallons a year than those average cars, which saves .55 gallons a day.
Thus, 912,500 Priuses need to be sold every day to make up the mess. Toyota has sold a lot of Priuses, but 900,000 a day? Not gonna happen. Maybe we can all drive 20 percent less to make up the difference? That’s the suggestion of Jason Henderson, a geography professor at San Francisco State University, who gives his detailed reasons why and how here.