Do your part

If every American reduced their driving by 5.4 miles a day, or 38 miles per week, “we could eliminate the equivalent of the Gulf of Mexico’s oil production.” That’s the determination Bill Finch, director of conservation for the Nature Conservancy in Alabama, made in a recent Cool Green Science blog post. He took these numbers into consideration: The average American uses 428 gallons of gas per year (compared to 59 gallons for the average European). Every day in the United States, 9.989 million barrels of oil are used for gasoline; 20 percent of that is 1.997 million. Meanwhile, 1.75 million barrels of oil are produced every day by offshore wells in the Gulf of Mexico. On average, Americans drive 190 miles per person per week. Twenty percent of that is 38 miles per week, or 5.4 miles per day.

Many people could cut their 5.4 miles a day by carpooling two or three days a week, Finch writes. But he also points to figures from the Federal Highway Administration that show about a third of our driving is for purely social reasons, and “the biggest percentage increase in travel over the past several decades has been the result of shopping trips,” which make up 15 percent of travel.

Finch closes his post by writing, “BP and others involved in the Deepwater Horizon project are responsible for the spill. But if we can’t reduce our driving by 5.4 miles a day, I think we need to look at our own responsibility, too.”