Eventhough it's not my vehicle of choice, I get it. Some folks need a giant car.
Maybe they have a vocation that requires driving through shallow rivers or deep snow. Maybe they have a passel of kids and have to carry around all manner of malodorous sports equipment. They might haul a horse trailer. Or logging supplies.
All these things require a giant vehicle, and I'm not judging the folks who own one. I'm judging the folks who idle one when they run into the post office.
The reason post office idling has me so riled up is because it puts a butt-load of unnecessary carbon in the air.
I expect folks got into the habit of idling back in the day when restarting a car engine used extra gas and caused wear & tear on the components. But those days are long gone. Nowadays we have a handy bit of modern technology called electronic ignition.
Electronic ignition means that unless you are driving your granddaddy's 1975 Caddy, you shouldn't be idling your car. Here's why:
1. Idling for 10 seconds uses up more gas than turning your engine off and back on again.
2. Idling to warm up the car before you drive off isn't good for the engine. The fuel isn't fully combusted and the residue builds up on the cylinder walls and can contaminate the engine oil. The safest way to warm up a cold engine is to drive it.
3. The CO2 from unnecessary idling contributes to climate change.
Idling vehicles in the U.S. create 40,000 tons of C02 per day.
For me, #3 is the critical one. (You can probably tell because I typed it big.) But whether you want to save gas, engine parts or polar bears, there's something you could try:
The next time you run into the post office for 2 minutes (120 seconds > 10 seconds) turn off the engine.
Same goes for the dry cleaner and the drugstore. And the school pick-up line, fast food joints, train crossings, long red lights, and in my town, the goose crossings. Yes, we have those, and geese are dang slow.
Try it and see what you think. And if the naysayers tell you that turning off your engine doesn't make a speck of difference, ask them where they studied math, because on most planets, 40,000 tons/day > a speck.
One last piece of advice: When the person in front of you in the bank line turns off her car engine, don't jump out of your truck and run up there and give her the secret, no-idling solidarity handshake.Apparently that makes people nervous.
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