One If by Land, Green If by Sea

I know, I know: Soon they’ll be shipping by migrating loggerhead turtle. But as the UK Observer reports, 60,000 bottles of French wine will be transported to Ireland in a 19th-century ship, saving 18,375 pounds of carbon.

Each bottle of Languedoc will, inevitably, have a label reading “Carried by sailing ship, a better deal for the planet.” The ships will make the return trip with “an equivalent tonnage of crushed glass for recycling into wine bottles at factories in Bordeaux and Béziers.”

Interestingly, the story runs shortly after a long feature in the New Yorker on the complexity of estimating carbon emissions. The by-now-ridiculously-simplified concept of food miles takes a beating.

Saying “the relationship between food miles and their carbon footprint is not nearly as clear as it might seem,” the story quotes an agricultural researcher in England who’s been hired by the British government to figure out the environmental footprint of various foods. “The idea that a product travels a certain distance and is therefore worse than one you raised nearby—well, it’s just idiotic,” he says. “It doesn’t take into consideration the land use, the type of transportation, the weather, or even the season.”

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