Nature

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Q: How eco-friendly is cash for klunkers?

How eco-friendly is cash for klunkers? The Editors Santa Fe, New Mexico

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A:

I haven't followed the "cash for clunkers" program as closely as I should, because my family's two cars—a hybrid and a grease-powered wagon—don't need to be traded in. So to learn more, I turned to my lone reliable source of information: Fox News. According to an article posted on its Web site, the success of "cash for clunkers" is as fleeting and false as grandma's survival chances under Obama's proposed health care plan. Therefore, using my Reverse Rule of Fox News postulate, I knew that in truth, the program must really be awesome.

The article quotes a really pissed off researcher, who lists the many hazards of tossing a dead old car in a landfill as if it's a Happy Meal box. (And this researcher should know a few things about vehicles and their carbon footprint—because a quick Google search informed me that her organization is partly funded by Exxon Mobil.) The article adds that if the Liberalcrats (my word, not theirs) in Congress really wanted to make a difference to the environment, they would have required higher fuel efficiency standards for the new cars bought through the program. Oh, and as a side note: Hannity is really pissed off about "cash for clunkers," too.

For those of us who live in reality, here's the most important fact: the fuel efficiency of the average car being bought in the program is about 60 percent higher than the clunker it's replacing. Yes, there is an impact from disposing of old vehicles, and there's a substantial carbon footprint involved with building a new one, but conversely, "cash for clunkers" is reducing emissions, fuel consumption, our dependence on foreign oil, and it's giving car companies added incentive to create innovative new gas-saving technologies (which will reduce our carbon footprint in the future). Now, if we could just do something about saving grandma from that health care plan.

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