There are approximately 1.5 million kilocalories in a barrel of oil. A quick calculation reveals, then, that filling America's collective gullet with turkey on Thanksgiving requires 915,200 barrels of oil. Satiating our poultry jones with chicken, by contrast, would consume only around 281,600 barrels of oil. Net savings: 633,600 barrels of crude, which translates into roughly 12,355,200 gallons of gas. Since a gallon of gas produces 19.564 pounds of carbon dioxide—yes, really—then we'd reduce Thanksgving's CO2 output by about 109,641 metric tons.
Sounds great, huh? And it's certainly better than nothing. But that impressive-sounding figure represents about one-thousandth of 1 percent of the nation's annual CO2 emissions. Which is a potent reminder of how hard it's going to be to right our environmental ship—and, in a strange way, why it's worth doing in the first place.
Is there an environmental quandary that's been keeping you up at night? Send it to email@example.com, and check this space every Tuesday.