George Pakenham, Professor Karl Storchmann, and I continue to ratchet down on idling from our different vantage points. In my work I have often explored the question of how to render that which is invisible to the unassisted human vision system visible.
Would people shut their engines if they could see the by-products from their gasoline engines? What if they could see the heat they were generating?
NYC has about 5,100 legally operating food trucks which generate $15 million dollars in taxes. That’s about 5,000 fossil fuel fired, air-polluting, climate warmers running 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year in New York City alone.
In the United States there are approximately 3 million food trucks burning kerosene, natural gas (hello, it’s methane which comes from decomposing plant matter), propane, and/or gasoline. That’s a fair number of street level emitters of particulate matter, unburned hydrocarbons, and a whole batch of complex compounds in aerosol, vapor, or otherwise respirable form and heating up the place at the same time. Plus there is an entire supply chain of high-carbon footprint activities necessary to get that fossil fuel into the tank.
Then there are small engines of many types, buses, and trucks. Same set of parameters but they burn even more fossil fuel. Instead of 3 million units, there are approximately 253,000,000 cars alone in the United States and around 1,200,000,000 (billion) cars in the world.
That’s a lot of engines, venting approximately 19 pounds of heat trapping carbon products per gallon at the tailpipe. Somehow we both need and find a million barrels a year more to fuel our lives. At this point at least 95 million barrels of oil a day is being consumed. If you are interested (and you should be) that’s about 42 gallons per barrel of oil.
So in addition to thinking about the harmful chemicals emitted by gasoline engines (idling and otherwise) that we are all breathing, this new InfraRed imaging camera has me starting to consider how much energy is wasted by the more than a billion automobiles, every day.
Until we come up with a way to change human behavior we are going to have even more people operating their vehicles longer than necessary. Given the statistics released by the World Health Organization, our love affair with the things we need/want (cars, energy, money, and shiny new things) is literally killing us all.
Kind of a whacky predicament for a bunch of otherwise smart people to be in, isn’t it?