I was recently invited to visit a web site which left me rather appalled. The author becomes “irate” because the average American citizen makes “ridiculously inappropriate” decisions when we buy our cars. The only criteria we all use is the to find the biggest gas guzzler we can for “prestige reasons”. The author also decides that we can all make do with sedans as they would “work perfectly”. Finally, we are all condemned for not buying manual transmissions. This author also heavily promotes motorcycles.

Is this common? Take a vogue issue such as the environment, fabricate the position of the average American citizen and then hold them responsible for those fabrications?

If we all got a motorcyle, as we are so strongly exhorted to do, we would increase pollution we put out when compared to a modern car by at 20 times. That is not 20%, that is 20 times, a very different number. The author is irate about gas usage. Evidently, environmental issues do not seem to be a concern.

I cannot speak for the average American citizen because I am not an all-knowing god.

Many people use their vehicle to do their jobs everyday. It is hard to imagine that small and medium farmers that haul hay, grain, shavings, animals, fertilizers, cereal grains, vegetables, fruit and other farm products are going to make do with a sedan. The same thing can be said for every trade in the construction industry, landscape industry and many other industries. You cannot hook up a snow plow to most sedans. Some people think it is a lot better to make 1 trip than to make 20. For that reason a bigger vehicle or one with the correct towing capacity is not only going to suit their needs but their own personal goals concerning their time, gas expenses, environmental issues and more.

As far as I know, many people assess the vehicle that they need based on what they use it for and how appropriate the vehicle is for that use. Some of the things that people may take into consideration are the amount of weight they intend to carry or haul and how often, how the vehicles handles, how safe it is and many other factors.

It would be a lot easier to believe that most people select the vehicle that they need based on what the vehicle is designed for, as they know that will put the least amount of stress on the engine and transmission, obtain the best mileage and reduce emissions, and be a lot safer not only for them but for the other people on the road as well

We also should not omit the recreational choices people make. Some people own RV’s, horse and stock trailers, boats and trailers designed to move around their snowmobiles, motorcycles, race cars, animals and other recreational choices.

Many people choose to have a 4WD or AWD vehicle. Many times this is due to the fact that they live in remote areas with dirt roads and little or no plowing. Some people have safety concerns and want a reliable all weather vehicle. Some people own land and use their vehicle drive around on it.

There are many vehicles that come with an automatic transmission, and only an automatic transmission. A standard shift is not always a choice that people have.

Is this author equally irate with families that have a larger house than they need? (”Need” being determined by the author, of course.) After all, if we all downsized to 100 SF per person, that would “work perfectly” and we can all save energy. Why stop there, why not judge every little thing that people think they need and thought they had a right to choose based on their own lifestyle and philosophical views.

Before you rush out and buy your new sedan, you may want to investigate the matter using some reputable technical data. It just happens that the EPA has this great web site called green-vehicles. On this web site they list all the 2006 vehicles, give their gas usage rating and more importantly, give the emissions rating as well. Many SUVs and larger vehicles are better on gas and have better emissions ratings than some smaller ones.

The information on the EPA web site and on the car stickers is very useful, however, people should not be judged on that criteria alone. Many people will figure out that they can greatly reduce the number of trips they make with a larger vehicle vs. a smaller one, resulting in a lot of energy savings and sparing a lot of pollution to the environment. Small business owners are likely to fit into this category as well as many others.

You will find extensive information on the EPA web site pertinent to many factors that effect both your gas mileage and your emmissions. The mechanical features of the car itself, how heavy it is, its aerodynamic properties, how much weight you are carrying, the way you take off and stop, the kind of roads you drive on, the type of driving that you do, how far you typically drive and many other factors can change your mileage and emissions reality by 20% or more.

Motorcycles produces 16x more hydrocarbons pollution than a modern car, 3x more carbon monoxide and a disproportionately high amount of other pollutants. There are several reasons for this. There is no catalytic converter, or a way to add one, easily. When you compare engine to engine, the motorcycle engine consumes more fuel for its size than a car engine. Motorcycles run on higher rotations. For equal cylinders, they have more horse power. That means that a 800cc or 1000cc engine on a motorcycle is actually equivalent to a 1200ccor 1500cc car engine.

Along with boats, they account for 12% of the HC emissions, 9% of CO, 3% NOx and other pollution, as of 2002. Those numbers are higher today and as their numbers increase, so will their contribution to the pollution problem. For more information visit the EPA's web pages or http://www.planetark.org/avantgo/dailynewsstory.cfm?newsid=17085

A 2-stroke motorcycle is more for an off the road bike or an ATV. They generate 118x the amount of pollution per mile than a modern car.

The other major recognized form of pollution that comes off of a motorcycle is noise. This is a common complaint that many of these bikers (not all certainly) use their noise and their pollution to get attention.

Motorcyles built prior to 2006 pollute the environment right on par with driving 20 cars simultaneously, according to the EPA. Sure it saves gas. If you get a pack of 4 at a stop sign or red light, you can literally inundate the victim behind you with at least 80 times the pollution they would have gotten from an SUV. The EPA now mandates better pollution controls, for 2006 and newer bikes, with more improvement deadlines in the future. Those laws do not apply to existing bikes. Those laws serve to reduce their emissions somewhat.

There are many documents available on the web that give numbers with respect to the emissions of several types of motors. One of those studies can be found at: http://pubs.acs.org/cgi-bin/sample.cgi/esthag/2006/40/i01/html/es0481023.html

According the the EPA, the new emissions control laws for motorcycles will reduce pollutants by 54,000 tons a year. Gasoline evaporates out of hoses and other parts directly into the environment. The new laws expected to be enforced in 2010 are intended to save over 12 million gallons of gasoline.

There are many tools and toys out there than run on gasoline and do not have a catalytic converter. These may also be responsible for extremely high amounts of pollution

Plenty of people happen to own one or more than one of those great lawnmowers that never break down or wear out. They run on gas. They do not have a catalytic converter. They are major causes of pollution. A typical lawnmower for 1 hour is on par with driving a car over 60 miles. A snowmobile for 7 hours is on par with doing over 100,000 miles in a car and a chain saw can generate 4x the pollution of a lawn mower. The same principle holds for weed wackers, snow blowers, trimmers, edgers, leaf blowers etc. Some of those tools are 2 stroke engines that burn oil too. They are major polluters. Some people think that because the engine is so small, it cannot possibly be polluting so much. That isn’t true.

It is not possible to assess the environmental views or actions of any individual based on what car they drive. Many people who own “gas guzzlers” may actually pollute the environment 100x less than people who own a gas efficient vehicle. Many of these same people that own gas guzzlers may actually use a lot less gas than someone who doesn’t. 100x less is not the same thing as 100% less. If it was 100% less then it would be only twice as much, not 100 times as much.

We can start with people that choose not to own a motorcycle. They might do that because they do not agree with polluting the environment somewhere between 20 and 180 times more than driving a modern car instead. They may not agree with doing their fair share of evaporating raw gasoline into the environment. Some people take issue with noise and prefer not to participate in irritating others with it.

Some people make a choice not to mow their lawns very often or not to run motor driven tools that pollute the environment. If those tools are the only tools they have, they may choose to use them as infrequently as possible. This is not something you can assess by examining what kind of car they are driving

Some people do not believe in supporting the pollution that comes off of an electrical service provider. They may choose to sign up with an AES (alternative energy supplier). Many light companies offer this option and there are coast to coast companies offering wind energy in every state. For more information visit: http://www.eere.energy.gov/greenpower/markets/pricing.shtml?page=1

Many people live in Energy Star rated houses. These houses do not use more than 20% of the energy for heating and cooling than a conventional house the same size does.

Many people do whatever they can to avoid throwing things into landfills, will use only compact flourescent bulbs, won’t buy products that cause a lot of pollution in manufacturing, bring their own bags to the grocery store, conserve water and many other things that they choose to do to help preserve the planet

Many people choose to buy only organic, all natural, native or locally grown foods. From an environmental point of view, these food choices likely cost a lot less energy to bring to the store as well as a lot less pollution. Whole Foods Market gets 100% of the energy that they use to run their stores from wind power. Many people support that concept and choose to shop there.

Some people choose not to use things like deodorant, household cleaning products, air fresheners, hair spray and a multitude of other smog forming chemically based products that form VOCs. In the San Joaquin Valley, these products are responsible for forming 22 tons of air pollution - a day. http://www.valleyair.org/sta/staidx.htm. You may or may not be able to tell that one, depending on how close you are to the driver and other factors.

It is no one’s business but your own what your environmental position is and who you choose to share that information with or what you do on behalf of it. I fail to see how people can be so quick to judge such a major issue on what kind of car they see them driving. The only environmental responsibility you truly have is meeting the criteria of the law. Everything else above and beyond that is voluntary. I fail to see how this becomes fair grounds to make law abiding citizens the targets of such judgemental comments and becoming “irate” over self fabricated results. Becoming upset about the behavior of others on this matter is equal to becoming upset that they did not make a donation to your favorite non profit.

People have a right to own a motorcycle, an RV, a boat, a horse trailer, a show cow, a flat bed or other suitable device for hauling around their snow mobiles, motorcycles, race cars and other things. People have a right to purchase a car for “prestige reasons”, just as they have a right to purchase a motorcycle, horse, boat, race car and a multitude of other things for prestige reasons.

I am sorry to see that some people spend so much time and effort worrying about how much gas they are using, while at the same time, they might be polluting the environment literally, at least 100x more than they could be. What is even worse is that they are concerned about how much gas other people are using.

Some people do not focus their attention on how much gas they are using, rather choose to focus on how much pollution they are creating or other matters that are personally important to them. That is no one’s business. People should not run around judging others on their own personal criteria

You may want to consider leaving lots of extra space between you and a motorcycle at stop signs and red lights, in addition to making sure you are not following one down the streets and highways. This can go a long way if you are asthmatic, have children in the car, are elderly or are otherwise sensitive. They leave a trail of pollution behind them as they drive and you drive right into it and breath it in. The same holds true for some of the large trucks on the roads. The heavier polluters are actually not that hard to identify, they generally cause some sort of immediate breathing difficulty. You may also find that in avoiding them, you are more alert, more able to drive more safely and less likely to fall asleep on the road.

Carbon monoxide binds to the hemoglobin over two hundred times more avidly than oxygen and distorts the release to the tissues of any remaining oxygen. Thus, CO poisoning is akin to suffocation. In addition, it has been observed that carbon monoxide can exacerbate cardiovascular disease in humans. Increased levels of certain air pollutants found in car exhaust can increase behavior changes such as aggressive behavior (road rage). Pollutants interact with the immune system and may cause local and systemic responses ranging from overactive immune responses to immunosuppression. Exposure to car exhaust can outdo a heavy smoker and cause not only the same health issues, but more. Some of the index chemicals are benzene, PAH’s, CO and many others. For a brief article: http://www.nowtoronto.com/issues/2005-10-13/news_story3.php. “One of our colleague’s blowing cigarette smoke directly into the air quality meter produced a carbon monoxide spike comparable to that of a car passing two metres away.”

A motorcycle is not just one cigarrette, its a whole pack. If it takes a smoker 5 min. to smoke a cigarrette, then its a whole pack, per 5 min. There are some differences that need to be accounted for. The assessment is rather loose, lacking good documentation. A smoker does not puff continually for a full 5 min. on a smoke, car exhaust is not intermittent, it is ubiquitious, so intake is every breath.

This is not meant to be an attack on motorcycles. Motorcycles were specifically mentioned by the author of the web site and they share the roads with cars.

Just because people own and use tools or toys that create a lot of pollution does not automatically mean they want to pollute or they don't care. Some people may do it out of ignorance. Others may not have a choice because there currently is no alternative solution

If people do not expect the EPA, their local government or a manufacturer to take what they have to say seriously they probably should expect the same response from the general public.

A change in the laws applies to those who do not care equally to those who do. It also applies equally to the ignorant and the educated. Many people have no reason to read about conservation of natural resources or pollution as they believe they are already doing everything they can.

This was admittedly written very quickly. If you have comments that you would like to share on this matter, this text was set up with a blog: http://spookydistance.com/pollution_blog/

An editorial. Thank you for listening.