March 25, 2008

How to save the world

I keep hearing about how environmentalism is so trendy here in LA, but one obvious way to reduce your carbon footprint is to get over in one of the right hand lanes on the freeway and drive 65 mph instead of your usual 78 mph. Watch your tachometer and you'll see a big difference in your RPMs -- there are rapidly diminishing marginal efficiencies in pushing air out of the way as your speed increases, especially if you have an SUV or other non-aerodynamic vehicle. You can drive 15 miles at 65 mph instead of 78 mph and arrive at the same moment if you leave 2 minutes and 20 seconds earlier.

Funny, though, how you never see anybody trendy-looking in the slow lane. I have to drive one long, steep uphill stretch of freeway a lot lately at midday when there's not much traffic. I've found that if I take it at 62 mph the whole way, the automatic transition won't ever have to downshift and push my RPMs through the roof. I've noticed, though, that I'm sharing the slow lane with more Datsuns than Infinitis. Typically, I go up the mountain behind a dilapidated small pickup truck with a lawnmower in the back, while to the left, hand-detailed Volvos and Priuses zoom past us losers.

As far as I can tell, environmentalism in LA is mostly about shopping, buying stuff white people like to flaunt your social conscience and income, about showing the world that you're living life in the fast lane. Driving slower so you can save money at the pump, in contrast, is seen as just sad.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Relevant to this, Al Gore was nabbed for speeding a year or two ago in Oregon.

- Fred

Alex said...

Hey, it's like Gore with his private jets and big house and all. The personal conservation thing is something little people should probably do because they have no option to live the high life anyway. They might as well go ahead and help out a little.

But the problem is so much bigger than what we can do individually that it's hardly going to matter if a tiny extra climate change occurs because the important people cushion their high stakes lives with the necessary refinements. Major, international government action is the only thing that can save the world so as long as you're contributing to that you're helping. Driving fast in the car you deserve is actually an investment in that, because it's good for your psychic health and allows you to focus on that government action (or making money to contribute to the right people) with renewed vigor.

Danindc said...

Steve, Quit being a complete pussy and buy a Cadillac Escalade (you can use the fifty I sent you) and get with the program. Only the weak are in the far right lane....along with the people with multiple DWI's , believe me I know.

Anonymous said...

It's amazing how environmentalism and sustainability has become just another way to consume.

Bill said...

You always get caught in Oregon if you don't know the deal.

Anyhow, Californians are nuts about their driving. You guys just floor it and drive bumper-to-bumper at 80mph. I go along with it when I'm there, but I don't like it much. But I don't really like the 50mph on snow-covered roads around here in winter either.

If you go to Ireland, there are signs letting you know how many people died on the local roads in the last year. In Montana, there are crosses all the way from Missoula to Kalispell.

Maybe in SoCal there should be mass-grave replicas.

Grizzlie Antagonist said...

In 1994, as Vice President, Gore also presided over a ceremony celebrating the re-opening of the Santa Monica Freeway after the completion of repairs made necessary by the Northridge earthquake.

Saving the planet from the evils of the internal combusion engine was one thing, but California's 54 electoral votes in the upcoming presidential election was something else.

Win Your Weight in Immigrants™ said...

...environmentalism in LA is mostly about shopping, buying stuff white people like to flaunt your social conscience and income. Driving slower... is seen as just sad.

One thing's for sure, he isn't starring in the movies.
'Cause he's walkin' in L.A.
Walkin' in L.A., nobody walks in L.A...


---Missing Persons, 1983

Reg C├Žsar said...

Shame on anybody who drives at those speeds along beautiful stretches of the California coast. Or the parkways of NYC or Westchester County. I want to take those at 35mph in a sleek free-wheeling Cord 810.

A good example of slowing people down is the so-called "practice freeway" in St Paul, the handsome stretch of I-35E southwest of the Capitol with a speed limit of 45. But that wasn't inspired by conservation air quality or safety or aesthetics or anything else noble. It was pure revenge-- by neighborhood politicians and other locals angry at eminent domain and such.

Anonymous said...

If a celebrity made tire air pressure his pet issue, he'd probably do more practical good than any other celebrity.

But in the end, I'm glad we live in this flashy goofy America rather than some practical dull place where cheap jerry rigged solutions substitute for grand adventures.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it would make more sense to drive a motorcycle at about 90 mph, get 40 mpg, and save time as well as gas? The "drive 55" movement has always struck me as one of the great American idiocies. Similar foolishness brought about the rush to compact flourescent lighting which saves a trivial amount of wattage compared to the kilowatts wasted on electric clothes dryers. Do you suppose Al Gore has a clothes line? Another example is the 1.6 gallon flush 'em twice toilet contasted to the thousands of gallons of water wasted watering lawns and golf courses. The environmental movement is often about feel good crapola--people just won't do the math. The one area where environmentalism IS important is habitat protection. Endangered species are like time: Once gone they are gone forever. Now go floor that pedal and save some habitat!

Johnson said...

Again, going vegetarian will do far more for the environment than any hybrid or energy conservation or any preservation efforts. But no one talks about that.

Dennis Mangan said...

Some time ago it came out that the Prius was far and away the best-selling hybrid, even though there are many others (just as good too, like Honda). Turns out that the Prius is the only one that looks distinctively a hybrid; the others don't allow you to show off environmental street cred.

Drawbacks said...

BBC Radio's Costing The Earth reported a while back on an American college that placed clothes lines on the greens behind their dorm rooms. They found that the female students enthusiastically took to hanging their clothes outside, while almost all male students, despite much pushing, continued to use electric clothes dryers.
The authorities weren't sure why this was, until some bright spark surveyed the female students, and asked them what they thought of males who pegged their clothes up to dry outside. According to the girls, such boys were likely to be poor, somewhat effeminate, and possibly gay. Case closed.
The reporter also had an anecdote about telling a friend that she'd get a lot more electric power from her solar cells if she moved them from the north-facing slope of her roof to the south-facing. Maybe so, came the reply, but the north side of the house faced onto the street, so she'd lose the social cachet from being visibly green.
Monkey Brains - 2; Gaia - 0.

Alex 2 said...

Driving at a lower speed, say 55-65mph, may save you a few mpg, but the single biggest waste of fuel in urban areas has got to be traffic jams. If you are driving in a major metro area, the best thing you can do to conserve fuel (for everyone) is probably to get where you're going as fast as reasonably possible, irrespective of your own gas mileage. The faster you get off the road, the sooner that bit of pavement can be used by another car, and the less likely traffic is to jam up.

Of course, that doesn't put gas money back in your pocket, so there's no self-interested case for your doing so. Drive however you want. It's a free country!

David Davenport said...

I keep hearing about how environmentalism is so trendy here in LA, but one obvious way to reduce your carbon footprint is to get over in one of the right hand lanes on the freeway and drive 65 mph instead of your usual 78 mph. Watch your tachometer and you'll see a big difference in your RPMs -- there are rapidly diminishing marginal efficiencies in pushing air out of the way as your speed increases, especially if you have an SUV or other non-aerodynamic vehicle.

Both aerodynamic drag and life are invariably proportional to the relative wind, a.k.a. forward speed, over a vehicle's lifting surfaces. Think of drag as sort of a negative of kinetic energy -- 1/2 * mass * velocity^2* drag coefficient.

Strict-sense drag is the principal energy sink a car's engine has to match to maintain steady speed on a level surface. Going slower makes a significant difference. 65 mph ^2 / 55 mph ^2 --> almost a 40 per cent difference.

In addition, a car needs surfaces such as the trunk lid upper "lip' shaped to provide some downward force on the vehicle to counteract the non-zero lift due to air circulation beneath the moving car.

For comparison, consider that one can take-off in a lightly loaded small airplane at freeway speeds. I recall taking off at 60 knots indicated in a Cessna 150 from the Torrance Airport on a cool day with no wind circa 1991, which is a very ordinary lift off speed for small aircraft.

The implications are obvious. America needs more small privately owned aircraft and more horses.

Ron Guhname said...

Yeah, I'm jealous of really cool people like Sammy Hagar:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CfNATuw1DRs

Anonymous said...

I have a basic flatscreen monitor at work. The other day when I came in and moved the mouse to wake my computer up, nothing happened; my boss had come by and turned the monitor off, to save money. I pointed out that if I turn my monitor off every weekend, instead of just letting it sleep, I'll save a whole 2.5 cents per weekend. He hasn't mentioned it since...

Grizzlie Antagonist said...

*****Again, going vegetarian will do far more for the environment than any hybrid or energy conservation or any preservation efforts. But no one talks about that.*****


Completely untrue.

Vegetarians push that line all of the time, especially PETA/Paul McCartney types who want to establish veggie dictatorships that would make meat-eating a crime punishable by death.

But they only represent about 95% or so of all vegetarians.

It's all bunkum. Perpetual hunger, which is what vegetarianism really is, couldn't possibly be an environmental solution.

And to the extent that it is, it's an environmental solution in the same sense that war is a remedy for overpopulation.

Anonymous said...

As me old med school prof once said .... vegetarianism is just a socially acceptable eating disorder.

(Although Hollywood seems to accept all eating disorders.)

Martin said...

There is some reason to believe that the Prius may be bad for the environment (whatever that means):

http://clubs.ccsu.edu/recorder/editorial/editorial_item.asp?NewsID=188

(hat-tip: I believe I originally saw this article linked from Dennis Mangan's blog)

However, one should note that the plant in Ontario where the nickel for the Prius' batteries is smelted produces sulphur-dioxide, which has a cooling effect, to counter the the warming effect of carbon dioxide, so it's all good. (Except it's not, in that the residence time of sulphur dioxide in the atmosphere is short compared to that of carbon dioxide). But what's all that compared to all the snotty eco-preening that the Prius entitles its owners to.

What would be even better is a hybrid car fueled with corn-derived ethanol. That way, you could poison Canadians, deprive poor kids of their corn-flakes, and get a feel-good enviromental buzz all at the same time.

Eric said...

What would be even better is a hybrid car fueled with corn-derived ethanol. That way, you could poison Canadians, deprive poor kids of their corn-flakes, and get a feel-good enviromental buzz all at the same time.

Heh. I'm just trying to figure out a way to fleece these people. I'd sell carbon offsets, but some other huckster has a head start on that one.

James said...

If you wanna feel like a loser ride the bus.

none of the above said...

I love anonymous' comment about tire pressure; it's so true. Political and social movements are big on the grand gestures and big visible sacrifices, rather than on boring crap like maintaining your car, insulating your house, siting your house to benefit from solar heating in the winter and not suffer from too much of it in the summer.

braindead said...

james sed,
"If you wanna feel like a loser ride the bus."

Thaaanks, I do that daily. But then, riding the bus here in Germany probably entails fewer hazards than doin it in the US. Actually, riding the bus and having stacks of cash is really cool. I'm still working on the cash side of things.

green mamba said...

Shame on anybody who drives at those speeds along beautiful stretches of the California coast.

Agreed. Why is it virtually considered a sin in this country to drive at a moderate pace (i.e. approximately at the speed limit)? Doesn't anyone care to look around and relax a little while driving, especially in beautiful surroundings?

Anonymous said...

Tyre(Im British!) pressure and other mundane stuff...

I was alarmed at my fuel consumption in the last few weeks. So been keeping tyres correctly inflated, keep checking them. Being almost broke, took out the airfilter and washed that - carefully! - dried it out and refitted. Yes a new one would be better...

Seem to have added about 4 mpg to performance.

Speed Racer said...

Green mamba, don't forget that whiter people build up a lot of repressed libido and aggression that needs to be let out by driving like idiots.

The most Liberal gun-banners don't think twice about stepping into a 2-ton piece of metal and hurling it around urban environments filled with people and property guided only by whim and utter failure to contemplate basic high school Physics.

none of the above said...

speed racer: They understand enough high school physics to only drive like that in the SUV, not in the Prius. This looks like a failure of morals, not good sense.