Mailport: June 2013
The February 2013 review of the new Lehr propane outboard motor had two sentences that caught my eye. The first was the claim that because of more complete fuel combustion, the motor has zero emissions. Complete combustion of one mole of propane yields four moles of water and three moles of carbon dioxide, both of which are important greenhouse gases. While we should all try to be green, claims of zero emissions for anything should be treated with skepticism. For example, zero emissions cars are a euphemism for “emissions occur somewhere else and are not counted.” Another point concerning the Lehr outboard: It uses disposable propane canisters; while it is possible in principle to recycle them, many will end up in landfills.
A second sentence, concerning environmental degradation in the North Sea, was right on the money: “Our technologies are vastly more powerful than our environment.” I could not agree more. The following bumper sticker recently appeared in Maine: “Don’t worry about the environment—it will go away.”
Mark Van Baalen, Ph.D.
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