Think long and hard before firing up the grill this Labor Day weekend. According to this recycled Mother Jones story from last year, you are going to be causing harm to the environment.
The smoky, sad truth: America's BBQ grills create as much carbon as a big coal plant https://t.co/lugI41cLxx pic.twitter.com/oBLgS8Ocft— Mother Jones (@MotherJones) September 4, 2016
But wait; digging into the story paints a different picture than what Mother Jones indicated in its headline.Interesting that electric grills produce more carbon than gas or charcoal. It must be because coal is a huge source of electric power. And the numbers look suspiciously high to me.
Roughly eighty percent of American households own barbecues or smokers,according to the Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association. Let’s say all 92.5 million of them decide to grill on Saturday. A 2013 study by HPBA found that 61 percent of users opted for gas grills, 42 percent for charcoal, and 10 percent for electric (some respondents had multiple grills). If that reflected all households across the United States, and each household used its grill for an hour on the 4th of July, then we’d get a calculation like this:
(56.425M gas grills*5.6 pounds of CO2) + (38.85M charcoal grills*11 pounds CO2) + (9.25M electric grills*15 pounds CO2 ) = 882 million pounds of CO2
But there's another issue. For most meals being cooked outside on the grill, there's less, or even no cooking in the kitchen. Thus CO2 production in the kitchen is being traded for CO2 production in the back yard. Is it 1 for 1? I doubt it, but it's certainly not non-neglectable in the calculation.
And how many coal fired power plants are there in the US? As of 2012 there were approximately 1,300. The additional CO2 due to grilling is insignificant.
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