CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Idling engines bad for Mother Earth

Frequently callers to Car Talk ask about idling their engines, whether it is good or bad for the car. It is not good for the car, correct? But way more important, it is bad for Mother Earth and children and dogs. It is vitally important to remind folks that idling cars release tons of CO2 that is literally threatening life as we know it, and it is an extremely easy preventative measure to turn your engine off. And children and dogs are right at the level of very yucky toxic engine emissions. So please be mindful and keep dogs and kids away from idling cars, and please turn off your engine to help all us Earthlings! And please ask others to too. Thank you for listening.

Won’t whatever 't kill it make it stronger?

I’m talking about the neighbor’s barky dog. All my idling in the world won’t stop it barking louder and louder.

Fun fact. In some locations with poor air quality, on new cars, what comes out of the tailpipe is cleaner than what gets sucked into the air intake.

Many municipalities are considering outlawing drive-through restaurants. The very long lineups with cars idling is causing considerable air pollution as well as needless carbon generation.

You’re going into CO2 panic mode with the threatening life scenario.

My oldest son is a climatologist and he said if really, really want to offset your carbon footprint (a bogus premise anyway) to go out and plant one tree. Not a forest; just one measly tree. That one tree will offset your CO2 for life.
If you own an aged, diseased tree that is dying then take it down and plant another. This squares you up with Mother Nature.

If idling is so bad for the environment, why do the emissions testing stations have signs that tell you to keep your engine running while you wait your turn in line?

Idleing is wasteful. Bad for the planet? Not at all. The Mother Earth really does not care at all who lives or dies. Millions of species found this out the hard way during geologic time in a span of 3 billion years. If you want to live forever your MD has a scrip to calm you down. You will not live forever. The statistics are really not in favor of this. You might also seek the help of clergy of your flavor, but i think they will also tell you that you will die. Not even astrologers will say when and how you will die but you will.

As to the car. Like Mother Earth it really does not care. The equipment was designed and built with 50 years of experience with cabbies. It will survive stop lights and Mc Donalds.

The concerns are OK, but way overstated. Folks need to understand that, even if one thinks 100% of warming is due to human CO2, the volumes being emitted from all sources, from all countries, will not be affected to any significant degree by changing how much we idle our cars. The rest of the world is exploding in terms of car sales and electrical use.

The big power plants burn thousands of tons of coal every day…idling cars have a very low exhaust gas volume…Burning hydrocarbon fuel in any form is bad for our atmosphere…Cars are just part of the picture and idling cars cause just a small fraction of the total atmospheric carbon input…

A 140 unit windfarm is being built around me at this moment and will be up and operational by the end of the year. I’ll be able to sit on my front porch or in the back yard and watch those blades whirl.
Wind energy is claimed to be clean and green. If anyone had to watch what’s involved with the construction of something like this and what is required to maintain it, clean and green is the last phrase that should be used. The amount of materials and fuel consumed is astronomical.

For what it’s worth, these things are going to require electricity from the grid to even be able to function; electricity that is coming from the coal-fired plant located about 40 miles away. So there’s the issue of how much CO2 is that coal plant generating to operate those turbines; not to mention that 80 gallons of oil each turbine requires during an oil change… :wink:

OK4450.
Have you looked at West Virginia, or any of the mountain top coal operations from an aerial point of view. The dumping of huge amounts of soil and rock filling whole valleys. The streams kill fish and the water is not drinkalbe. So a windfarm hurts what?

OK4450,
You misunderstand the facts. No grid power windfarm needs grid power to operate. That is straight up BS.The issue is balancing the volts on the grid. The newer gas powered plants (NOT COAL) can do this easily

I agree that coal mining is a nasty business. A late uncle of mine was a welder in the coal miners of northern Alabama and owned a large property right down the road from the mines. The ground and lake around his home was pristine in spite of the mines being located adjacent.

My point about the wind turbines is that a beyond comprehension amount of materials and fuel is being used to construct these things and keep them in operation. Those turbines also have to use power from the coal-fired plant to even produce power. It’s claimed that wind turbines are clean, efficient, and energy neutral. Not from what I’ve seen. There was even a huge substation constructed which was required to tie the turbines into the existing grid.

Without that coal-fired plant none of those turbines are going to produce one watt of power.
By next year they’re all supposed to be in operation and guess where every bit of my electricity is coming from; along with everyone around me? The coal-fired plant will be the source because it’s already been stated that every bit of power these turbines produce will be routed through the lines to Texas and then on to Alabama.

I might add that the coal-fired plant I mention is located on the banks of a lake where the water is used for the cooling towers. There’s a Pike’s Peak of coal located there and the entire area, both ground and water, is clean as a surgical room. The area is also a huge wildlife preserve with one of the best fishing lakes around with boating, hunting, and swimming allowed at the beach.
In fact, a stinking deer (one of many) wiped out the front of my car there some years ago. :frowning:

Stop all coal mining, stop nuclear, and quit building hydro-electric dams because of some fish and then what makes the wind turbines go?

My gut feeling is that as these turbines wear our or fail catastrophically they will simply be shut down and eventually there will be 140 inert monuments.
The projected (?) service life of the turbines is 20 years and the contracts any land owners were given for the use of their land was capped at 20 years maximum. That tells me that when a 15 or 20 year old turbine fails it will be unplugged rather than signing another contract and spending a half million and up to repair it. It would be similar to a fleet of commercial vehicles where the cost of repairing one is simply not worth it.

Another note about wildlife. The OK Dept. of Wildlife has some serious concerns about the blades wiping out flocks of migrating birds. They’ve stated that at some of the operating turbines the ground is littered with dead birds. So kill the fish in places with coal or wipe out the bird population with large meat grinders; pick your poison. :slight_smile:

The rapid growth of wind (and solar) projects is finally starting to make a respectable contribution to our nations power supply…There were a few windy days in Colorado this spring where 50% of the States electrical power was being generated by the wind…These winds also fanned horrific wildfires…Few people realize there has been a huge change in our energy situation. Vast new natural gas fields have been discovered. The price of N.G. has plunged to record lows, cheaper than coal…To take advantage of this, many power plants that have access to this gas are converting their boilers to operate on this clean-burning fuel…There are plans to convert the nations over-the-road truck fleet to run on LNG, greatly reducing truckers fuel costs…

OK4450,
Apparently you love coal. If you want to see where coal is not friendly fly over areas with mountain top removal mining is practiced. Then look at aerial photos fro the 50’s. Hundreds of square miles of wasteland and poisoned streams where there used to be trees and mountains. No wind turbine needs power to operate more than a few lightbulbs worth to power the control system. Coal plants also need power to feed the furnace before they produce steam so what?

I’ll just leave this right here
youtube.com/watch?v=NxTNZUhesZk

@jersey_jane

BMW hears you. Buy a 2013 BMW of any sort and it will come standard with auto start-stop. Just stop the car and the engine turns off. When you need to go, it starts automatically.

For those that think wind power is ‘green’, here’s a wake up call, statistics and all (in short, wind farms in the US are killing THOUSANDS of eagles, hawks, owls, and other raptors every year):

“The 165-km2 Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area (APWRA) in west-central California includes 5,400 wind turbines, each rated to generate between 40 kW and 400 kW of electric power, or 580 MW total. Many birds residing or passing through the area are killed by collisions with these wind turbines. We searched for bird carcasses within 50 m of 4,074 wind turbines for periods ranging from 6 months to 4.5 years. Using mortality estimates adjusted for searcher detection and scavenger removal rates, we estimated the annual wind turbine–caused bird fatalities to number 67 (80% CI = 25–109) golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos), 188 (80% CI = 116–259) red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis), 348 (80% CI = −49 to 749) American kestrels (Falco sparverius), 440 (80% CI = −133 to 1,013) burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia hypugaea), 1,127 (80% CI = −23 to 2,277) raptors, and 2,710 (80% CI = −6,100 to 11,520) birds. Adjusted mortality estimates were most sensitive to scavenger removal rate, which relates to the amount of time between fatality searches. New on-site studies of scavenger removal rates might warrant revising mortality estimates for some small-bodied bird species, although we cannot predict how the mortality estimates would change. Given the magnitude of our mortality estimates, regulatory agencies and the public should decide whether to enforce laws intended to protect species killed by APWRA wind turbines, and given the imprecision of our estimates, directed research is needed of sources of error and bias for use in studies of bird collisions wherever wind farms are developed. Precision of mortality estimates could be improved by deploying technology to remotely detect collisions and by making wind turbine power output data available to researchers so that the number of fatalities can be related directly to the actual power output of the wind turbine since the last fatality search.”

Most of the “green” movement is all about a feel-good feeling rather than doing anything worthwhile

Windpower, in addition to costing several times more per kilowatt-hour than coal or gas fired power, also needs backup power installed in case the wind does not blow, making it even more expensive.

Here, wind power costs about 38 cents/kwhr to generate, while coal generated power is about 10 cents. It takes a big government subsidy to balance that. Spain went on a massive windpower program and is now rethinking the whole thing as their economy and federal budgets are crashing. Talk about “tilting at windmills!”

Denmark, a very sober and practical country without coal, oil or gas, is also rethinking it. As is Britain.

Since we are drowning in excess natural gas, the most sensible thing to do is to convert coal fired stations to natural gas, and reduce that Carbon emission in HALF! Most US emissions are not from cars, but coal fired power plants. Powering service vehicles and heavy duty trucks with natuuarl gas also makes sense. Boon Pickens has been advocating that for several years. New Zealand and Italy already have large fleets of cars and trucks running on natural gas.

I have nothing against windmills but making them produce the largest share of electric power will put the US at a competitive disadvange for further manufacturing investment.

Holland, the birthplace of windmills, has lots of wind and also lots of natural gas. They mix the two and have about 15% target windpower for their electric grid. A win-win situation.