Earth Hour this Saturday!

Don’t just turn off your lights for #earthhour from 8:30 to 9:30… turn off your engine, too!

Occupy Your Gas Tank

Gas prices just jumped to over $4 per gallon again. Meanwhile, Exxon reported profits of $9.3 billion last year (yes, billion with a ‘b”) — “the highest profits in the history of money,” to quote Bill McKibben. McKibben founded 350.org, and is the voice of a grass-roots fight against the Keystone XL Pipeline project which, according to NASA’s top climatologists, would be “game over for the environment.” (Oil extraction from Canada’s tar sands is already an unspeakable environmental nightmare,using toxic chemicals and huge amounts of energy to strip-mine billions of acres of unspoiled forest land.) Nonetheless, a surge of money is pouring into congress to ram the project through.

Meanwhile, we’re so tired of being at war to protect our oil interests; tired of wall street greed; tired of climate deniers.

What can we, as car-culture consumers do? Boycotting oil is not as simple as boycotting other things. We can only make our voices heard with a two-pronged approach of activism and conservation.

Here are five ways to occupy your gas tank:

  1. Get a new car that is part of the solution.
  2. Take public transportation
  3. Ride a bike to work or school
  4. When you have to drive, drive green
  5. Turn off your engine!

The Doctor Prescribes Clean Air (Boston.com)

This is why all schools should be anti-idling zones!

WHO

Dr. Megan Sandel

WHAT

Sandel, an associate professor of pediatrics and public health at Boston Medical Center, is an expert on asthma and air pollution.

Q. What is the connection between air pollution and health?

A. There’s a lot of evidence around how pollution affects respiratory health and cardiovascular health, particularly for vulnerable groups like children, people with asthma, or elders.

Q. What can people do to protect themselves?

A. I always talk about being able to moderate exposures as much as possible. I think air pollution is an example of something you’re not able to modulate easily on your own. You are relying on the federal and state government to regulate it because you have such insufficient alternatives: You can exercise indoors, you can try to reduce your energy use, and you can try to avoid going outside on certain days. But really, changing your environmental exposure is going to require a public health law.

Read more at: The doctor prescribes clean air – Boston.com.

Another reason to cut the engine habit…

Scientists Increasingly Link Vehicle Exhaust With Brain-Cell Damage, Higher Rates of Autism.

New public-health studies and laboratory experiments suggest that, at every stage of life, traffic fumes exact a measurable toll on mental capacity, intelligence and emotional stability. “There are more and more scientists trying to find whether and why exposure to traffic exhaust can damage the human brain,” says medical epidemiologist Jiu-Chiuan Chen at the University of Southern California who is analyzing the effects of traffic pollution on the brain health of 7,500 women in 22 states. “The human data are very new.”

Read the full article here.

It’s not just the Idling…

Ways to improve your gas mileage from high-country Aspen:

* Accelerate gradually.

* Avoid idling. The best way to warm up vehicles is to turn them on and drive. Idling for more than 10 seconds wastes more gas than turning your vehicle off and then back on again.

* Remove unnecessary cargo.

* Check your tire pressure. Under-inflation increases tire wear, reduces your fuel economy by up to 3 percent, and leads to increased greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.

Better yet, give your car or truck a break! One of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint is to use alternative transportation: Ride a bike, walk, take the bus, or skateboard. For every gallon of gas that you save, you’ll reduce your carbon footprint by about 20 pounds.

Turn the Key – Be Idle Free car magnets

Order car magnets from the idling tool kit here.

Oakland Police May Idle Less

In today’s news, Oakland police officers will get new laptops for their vehicles thanks to a grant from Clorox.

This is great news for our air quality, since old, power-hungry computers drained car batteries and required officers to keep their engines running at all times.

Here’s an article from a city in England that explains this issue. We can assume this problem exists in every city that has police cars with computers.

California’s Anti-Idling Laws

Did you know California has an anti-idling law? It’s illegal to idle more than 5 minutes!

This chart was compiled by ATRI, the American Transportation Research Institute. (Ignore the first row…)

Read the full chart here.

Lessons from a Hypermiler

This guy can get 59 mpg in a plain old Accord. Lots of great ideas here. Notice how he accellerates and brakes.

http://motherjones.com/politics/2007/01/guy-can-get-59-mpg-plain-old-accord-beat-punk

Consumer Reports says…

Check out this great article on ways to save gas from consumer reports. Yup, idling is on the list! All the other advice is great, too.

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Avoid idling for long periods

Think of it this way: When you’re idling, your car is getting zero miles per gallon. When we let a Buick Lucerne, with a V8, idle for 10 minutes while warming up, it burned about an eighth of a gallon of gas. A smaller engine would probably burn less, but idling still adds up over time. As a rule, turn off your engine if you expect to sit for more than about 30 seconds. An engine warms up faster as it’s driven anyway.