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The Biggest Waste in America

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When people idle their cars in parking lots, driveways, and roadsides, it really bugs me. It’s a completely unnecessary source of pollution. How many miles to the gallon do you get when you idle? Zero. Every time you go to a gas station or parking lot, there are five, ten, even fifteen cars idling. Americans waste about 3.8 million gallons of gas every single day idling, according to Hinkle Charitable Foundation. Just imagine how much fuel it would save and pollution it would prevent if those millions of drivers stopped idling.

I’ve seen neighbors and strangers at the local store in the middle of the summer with the windows open, just letting the engine run for fifteen or twenty minutes while they shop. Someone should hop in their cars and drive them into a nice deep ditch somewhere. Maybe even a pond… that would teach them. Once at a friend’s house I witnessed someone leave their car on, in the driveway, for almost forty minutes while they chatted. It’s not that difficult to turn the key! Come on, adults. How lazy can you be? I thought that the experienced ones were supposed to be good role models.

I’ve never addressed someone idling before, although I’ve thought about saying, “We’re trying to breathe here!” more than a few times. My dad has asked nicely, and the culprit usually shrugs it off with an, “Oh, we’re leaving soon.” I found some interesting facts from the Hamilton County Air Quality Management Division site. Did you know that it consumes less gas to turn ‘er off and start again if you’re stopped and idling for more than ten seconds? Some drivers say they didn’t know belching CO2 into the air was a problem. Is America that uneducated?
Why do the gas-guzzlers do it? In the winter I can almost understand that people want to keep their cars warm, but can’t they sacrifice a few minutes of discomfort to help give their children and a few billion other people a better future, or even a future at all? Climate change is happening, fellow humans. There’s a reason for the flooding and freak storms all over the world. I think a lot of people simply don’t realize it’s a problem. I guess we’ve got some serious teaching to do.

Another problem is that with automatic cars, it’s easy to put it in park and get out. Why couldn’t the engine just die when weight is removed from the drivers seat? Our fifteen-year-old lawn mower does it, so I can’t imagine it would take anything very high tech to make it work for a car. Idling is widely considered acceptable by the hordes of ignorant Americans who somehow got driver’s licenses. If everyone knew it was as bad as smoking or drunk driving, people might be more reluctant to do it.





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nekwriter said...
Nov. 28, 2011 at 6:32 am

e-writer,

You make an excellent point and I agree with you wholeheartedly! All of us need to be more concious of how we are affecting our environment. I hope the right people read your essay and change their ways.

oh, and congratulations!

 
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