Why I wrote this
“Bike to Work Day” is June 24th in Denver and I have been seeing advertisements everywhere. I do not usually write on environmental issues, although I did touch on the Christian’s role relating to the environment at https://williamjosephsblog.wordpress.com/2014/12/13/correspondence-with-an-athiestskeptic/. Initially I wrote it for fun to see if I could make sense of an idea that popped into my head after seeing one of the “Bike to Work Day” signs. However, I also like to challenge the way people think, which is what it does. Sometimes we need to challenge our own understanding in order to come out with a more well rounded and integrated discernment of the world. Its primary purpose is the stir up thought and NOT necessarily to change people’s minds. Enjoy…
Biking for the environment?
If someone advocates for the replacing of cars with bikes and argues that the switch is necessary purely for the purposes of protecting the environment and cleaning the air, that seems like an inadequate reason. Replacing automobiles with bicycles might not have the intended outcome that the environmentalists are aiming for. Although a cleaner environment is desired by all, the desire alone to have a cleaner environment does not equal a good or sustainable plan. The argument below, if valid, shows that there is a good reason to think that replacing all cars with bikes could be worse for the environment than we think. It is just a theory and the argument might have weak premises. The reader is encouraged to examine the strength of each premise to see if it is more likely than its alternative. Keep in mind that if this was a thoroughly researched article, I would have referenced studies related to the topic as I’m sure there are many that would disagree with my contention. Again, the purpose of this article is to challenge how we think.
There are much better/stronger reasons that a bicycle advocate can use if they want to convince more people to start riding bikes. The following are some alternative reasons: exercise, healthier community, happier community, less traffic, etc… Even if the bike advocate convinces people to ride their bikes to and from work every day, people will still want to go places that only an automobile can take them after work and on the weekends, which would burn more fuel.
The argument is as follows: (this is more of an inductive argument in that it presents potential reasons/evidence for the likelihood/probability of my main contention. The conclusion, therefore, does not necessarily follow with certainty but relies on the likelihood/probability of the evidence presented)
- If everyone cycled everywhere, populations of people (specifically in large cities) would burn more calories collectively than they do currently.
- Since energy would be needed to cycle every day, human populations would be forced to consume more calories collectively
- Current levels of caloric consumption for city populations is already massive. And with the suggested influx energy-expending activities (cycling), city populations would need even MORE food freighted in on trains and large trucks in order to sustain the population.
- Adding more Trains and large trucks would require more fuel be burnt and more greenhouse gasses to be put in the air. (cleaning the air is presumably the reason that some advocate for more bike riding and less car driving)
- Therefore, replacing cars with bikes is NOT necessarily more sustainable for the environment and should not be used by bicycle advocates as a reason to ride bikes more.