Film Offers Fuel For Thought

September 28th, 2009

fuel_josh_280pxJosh Tickell is the driver of “The Veggie Van”, which travels the nation using little more than vegetable oil for fuel. Recently, Josh made his way of life the basis for a feature film Fuel, which documents the correlation between fuel use and global warming. In it he links current agricultural distribution practices to increased carbon emissions and environmental degradation. Another good reason to go meatless this Monday!

America consumes more oil per person than any other country. We make up just 4.5% of the global population, yet we use a quarter of the world’s oil supply. Much of our oil use is attributable to food production methods. The synthetic fertilizers and pesticides used on many crops contain petroleum, putting the health of our soil and waterways at risk. According to Livestock’s Long Shadow, fossil fuels are also found in animal feed.

Long-range distribution of goods, including meat and produce, accounts for much of our fossil fuel use, too. Many of the items we buy are produced internationally. The apples and grapes you see in the store often flown in from half way around the world. Once they arrive in the U.S. they are sent on trains to local distribution centers, where trucks move them to stores. Every stage of this journey requires fuel.

In the film, Josh makes the argument that switching to biodiesel fuels could greatly reduce our carbon emissions. Biodiesel is a man-made fuel made from organic waste and oils. It can be used in diesel engines without any vehicle modification. Biodiesel production may even help reduce existing atmospheric CO2.

Main takeway: the most affordable, effective way to mitigate global warming is to cut back on activities that eat up oil. Making the switch to a locally based organic food system would represent a tremendous step forward, Josh suggests. We at Meatless Monday agree, as long as it includes foregoing meat on Mondays!