Letter emissions battle all about profits letters to the editor gloucestertimes.com static electricity images

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Oh Taylor, we are a country of the entitled ("Context lost in the smog as partisans battle over vehicle emissions," Taylor Armerding, April 12). While a large segment of the developed world pays outrageously high gas prices and drives smaller, fuel efficient cars, we are using cheap gas in enormous SUVs and trucks to drive to the mall. How dare there be regulations that require cars and trucks to achieve 50 miles per gallon by 2025? So what if oil consumption would be cut by 12 billion barrels and carbon emissions by 6 billion tons over the eight-year lifespan of one car. It’s infinitesimal when spread over the whole world — especially since the U.S. only uses 7 billion gallons of oil per day for transportation. Taylor, you forgot to multiply 263,600,000 registered (key word) U.S vehicles in the equation. But still.

I’m old enough to remember the gas crisis; odd and even day fill up, old enough to remember consumers wanting smaller, more efficient cars. Enter the Japanese with Toyotas. Forgetting to put a finger on the consumer’s pulse, American companies continued to make big cars. Their sales fell. Gasp, people even carpooled!

I’ve had a driver’s license for more than 50 years. I can still hear my dad saying “Don’t ride the brakes!” “Use your turn signal!” He taught me how to negotiate a curve, maintain a car and listen to the engine. His best friend was a mechanic and I grew up in that garage. I drive a car for about 10 years, and most of my cars have been standard transmission. My favorite was a 1990 Ford Probe GT with roll-away headlights. It had torque steer. It was a turbo charged slingshot that got good gas mileage. Sure, in the winter I had to weigh down the rear end with giant bags of kitty litter. Fortunately, I had cats. But that front-wheel drive domestic beauty never met a snow covered hill it couldn’t conquer – including my treacherous driveway, which was, and remains, the car buying test. I knew that engine so well, I could shift without using the clutch. At 75,000 miles, I replaced the rotors. I replaced the timing belt before it had a chance to smack the engine. At 90,000 miles, I still had the original clutch. Continued driving. Other than regular maintenance, that covers the repairs. Enter the 2001 Audi A4 Quattro. When I took delivery, my salesman said: “Jump on the brakes.” “But it’s a stick!” I replied. “Really, jump on the brakes”, he repeated. I’ve always loved to see how far I can drive around Gloucester before using my brakes (Dad!). Quite a bit without traffic by using momentum or using terrain to slow. But two months after the four-year warranty, I replaced rotors. Then three more times before 2011. Plus the ABS. Plus the clutch, something I had never had to do on any other car. And I never, ever, popped that clutch. Are manufacturers using flimsier parts? Yup. But not as much for fuel efficiency as for — wait for it — profits. More repairs equal more profits. Same with thinner metal. I’d be on my third Ford Probe, but they stopped making them, probably because they were too reliable. Always follow the money.

Which finally brings me to my point, but the reminiscence was fun for me. A more efficient engine makes for a more fuel-efficient vehicle. Visit another part of the world where gas isn’t cheap. A Hyundai i30 getting 30 miles to the gallon is not good enough. People ride motor bikes, motorcycles, bicycles. Some even walk, perish the thought. And use public transportation. There are wind farms everywhere. Even in the Caribbean, regular people are putting in solar panels. Ocean water is desalinized and safe to drink (Hello California? Oh, no. Let’s just suck out all the ground water.). Here, have a glass of Flint, Michigan, water four years later. Or not.

Solar power is bad for the electric company because it’s so efficient. Fine, charge me for using the grid. Kinda fair. Wind power? Nope. Birds. And ugly. And those pesticides that cause cancer? Oh, never mind. And that “stuff” factories pump into the rivers? Too much treatment; too expensive. The leaking nuclear waste? Pfft.