To calculate how long it takes a car to produce a ton of carbon, we start with 1 gallon of gas produces 20 pounds of CO2. Then it matters what your miles per gallon is, but 20 miles per gallon is an approximate average (probably a high estimate with all the gas guzzling cars on the road). So in a car that gets 20 mpg, and with gasoline that creates 20 lbs CO2 per gallon, there is about 1 lb CO2 per mile traveled. So a car would produce 1 ton of carbon in 2000 miles.
It depends on the car. Let’s take one specific example that we can calculate with precision. Recently the Environmental Transport Association ranked the Dodge Cabriolet as the #1 worst car for the environment, in part because it generates 488 grams of carbon per kilometer traveled. That’s 1.08 pounds of carbon; thus in a Dodge Cabriolet you’d have to travel 1851.85 km, or 1,150.69 miles to generate one ton of carbon.
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