To the editors:

Whatever we may think of the College’s divestment from fossil fuel companies, most of us probably agree that using less of these fuels is a desirable goal to avert climate disaster. Personal vehicles account for nearly one-fifth of all U.S. emissions. Did you know that every gallon of gasoline you burn puts nearly 20 lbs. of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere? 

You might now be questioning how a gallon of liquid gasoline, which weighs about six lbs. can turn into 20 lbs. of carbon dioxide gas.  Combustion in your car engine requires oxygen—the carbon dioxide emitted is mostly oxygen by mass.

So one trip down to Portland and back, in most cars, puts about 40 lbs. of heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

“Driven” by both a climate perspective and from the angle of a mom who wants her teenagers to have some transportation independence, I’ve become locally involved with advocating for increased availability of public transit in the Brunswick and mid-coast Maine areas. 

The Town of Brunswick is currently in discussion with Portland METRO about expanding their proposed Portland-Freeport bus route to Brunswick. Imagine if you had the option to catch a WiFi-equipped bus several times per day from here to downtown Portland? Or to the mall—or L.L. Bean along the way? This project is likely to go ahead if Brunswick can gather local match funding. What do you think, Bowdoin Student Government?  Would this be a good project to support?

 Let’s think outside the car.

Karen Topp
Karen Topp is a Senior Lecturer in Physics.