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home : opinions : opinions February 21, 2019

1/29/2019 1:42:00 PM
Why I am upset by idling vehicles
By Steve Nugent

Idling a vehicle unnecessarily adds CO2 to the atmosphere, increasing global warming.

Even though I don't travel much and don't live where hurricanes, floods and tornadoes are a threat, the impacts of global warming on me are still significant. I breathed toxic smoke from the California fires last year for two months, not to mention smoke from other local Oregon fires. Scuba trips to dive on reefs are disappointing because 50 percent of the reef is dead. Salmon and steelhead fishing in Oregon is getting harder because of declining stocks of wild fish. The cost of wild salmon in the market continues to rise. Some fruits, vegetables and nuts from California are getting more expensive and scarce.

I have to continually fireproof my house to protect from more frequent, increasingly intense wildfires. My fire insurance is increasing because of all the western wildfire claims. We are all paying more taxes to support $300 billion in Federal disaster relief in 2017 and even more in 2018.

What a waste of my tax dollars.

When I ask why a person is idling when parked, they generally give me one of six answers:

1. "It saves money because I'm only going to be in the post office, bank or store for a minute." It's a myth that this saves any money. Idling your vehicle for more than five seconds uses more fuel than stopping and restarting.

2. "My diesel needs to idle to save the starter and keep the oil pressure and temperature up." Myths. Diesels need to be under load to be at optimum temperature to minimize wear. Unburned fuel causes pollution and dilutes the oil, causing excessive wear. Starter wear is not a concern. Hybrid car starters start hundreds of times during each trip. UPS trucks re-start at every stop.

3. "I need to let my engine warm up before driving." Gas cars should be immediately driven after starting to prevent excessive wear and shortening of life. Diesels should be driven after a 30-second warm-up of the oil to prevent excessive wear and unnecessary pollution. Diesel manufacturers recommend no more than three minutes of warm up.

4. "I need to let the diesel turbocharger cool down." Another myth. Totally unnecessary and ineffective. Just turn it off and save some money.

5. "Diesel exhaust does not hurt anybody." Human studies show an increase in lung cancer and cell damage due to diesel fume inhalation. It's carcinogenic.

6. "It's my God-given right to pollute if I want to." This is not like leaving the lights on in your house. This impacts every living thing on the planet, including your neighbors, friends, and relatives. It's a global impact.

I often talk to people that are avid hunters, fisherman, birders and outdoors hikers. These people should be the most concerned about the global warming impacts on their quality of life. They should be the people conserving, minimizing car trips and definitely not idling when parked. Most people cannot believe that what they do as an individual makes any difference.

Well it does, particularly when millions are doing the same thing.

Oregon actually has laws against idling an unoccupied car, maximum fine $250. Diesel trucks over 10KGVW must turn engines off after five minutes in any one-hour period.

There is no reason to idle a vehicle once it is parked, unless it is for survival in sub-zero conditions. Do the smart, responsible thing and just turn it off. If it's cold outside, go inside and look at your cell phone.

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