Residents of Sao Paolo, Brazil, should be proud that their megacity is the only one that uses biofuel for cars. Or maybe not, considering that a lot of this environmental good is undone because everyone loves pizza too much.
A new study published in Atmospheric Environment claims that Sao Paolo’s environment is still being destroyed by emissions from the 1,800 pizzas made daily in wood-burning stoves. Another emissions culprit is the city’s steakhouses. So even though the city has less pollution from vehicles, it’s still dealing with air quality concerns.
The study’s lead author, Prashant Kumar, is serious about sounding the alarm. The civil engineering professor says that more than 7.5 hectares (about 19 acres) of eucalyptus forest are burned every month by these restaurants. “This is significant enough of a threat to be of real concern to the environment negating the positive effect on the environment that compulsory green biofuel policy has on vehicles,” he says.
Obviously, this doesn’t mean that the biofuel initiatives were useless. Things would be worse if everyone were using gasoline and eating fancy pizza. And given that the Columbia Earth Institute says the biggest source of pollution worldwide isn’t cars anyway, the news that switching to biofuel possibly doesn’t have as much impact as hoped isn’t surprising.
There’s no clear solution, however. Sure, 1,800 pizzas a day in a city with 11 million people doesn’t sound high at first. Then again, it’s unclear if Sao Paolo’s pizza problems are present in other cities around the world. Ban gas, sure, whatever. Ban wood-burned pizza? That might be a bigger problem.