Environment

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No, Jesus would drive a second-hand beater

I have to laugh at Brendan I. Koerner’s recent article over on Slate arguing that manually shifted transmissions are better for the environment than automatic transmissions. While in a sense, he answered the question correctly (though not completely, as Martin Schwoerer argues over at The Truth About Cars: Koerner completely disregarded the fuel efficiency of a spate of new transmission technologies – CVTs, DSGs and automatic clutches among them – that have cropped up in new cars over the last several years), he missed the entire point.

Sure, buying a manual trans car may be better for the environment, but what’s best for the environment is not buying a car at all, and if you do have to buy a car, it’s still best not to buy a new car. Regardless, Koerner’s suggestions seem to come back to buying a brand-new car. Only once does he seem to say otherwise:

This calculation, however, doesn’t include some less obvious benefits of manual transmissions. The brake pads on stick-shift cars, for example, tend to wear out less rapidly than those on automatics. And manual transmissions are relatively cheap to fix and replace, so you can wait longer to buy a new vehicle. Manufacturing auto parts is energy-intensive, so anything that can be done to curb their production has to be a plus.

Bingo. Study after study shows that just as many pollutants go into the atmosphere during the manufacture of a vehicle as during the vehicle’s lifespan once it leaves the factory. But at no point do we hear Koerner or any of the greenies advocate buying a used car. Instead, in marketing-fueled America, the message is to buy green – whether it’s Toyota’s emphasis on hybrids, Chevrolet’s emphasis on E85-powered cars or any number of consumer products (shrink-wrapped in plastic and entirely non-biodegradeable) that claim to be better for the environment.

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Banned Books

In keeping with the theme that D Wallz started with his article on Tin Tin, I thought I would mention a few banned books that I have read and appreciated and why they were banned. I do encourage people to comment about their favorite banned books as well in the comment section below if they feel so obliged.

200px-rye_catcher.jpgCatcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger. This might be one of my favorite books of all time. I don’t know what it is about this book but I cry at the end every time. The part where our main character takes his kid sister Phoebe to the marry-go-round and he is narrating, he says that he wishes he could catch all of the kids before they went over the edge; that he would be the catcher in the rye. I don’t even know why but I almost cry every time I get to that part of the book.
This book was banned mostly in school libraries because of it’s themes of impropriety and scenes of sexual situations. I must have bought about seven copies of this book because each time I meet someone who hasn’t read this novel, I force a copy on them. Honestly, this novel is about growing up. Growing up is about themes of impropriety and sexual situations. I really feel that when books like this get banned, the adults who are banning them have just forgotten what it was like to grow up and be a confused and upset teenager.

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Recycling is Good for the Environment After All.

Does sorting bottles and cans really save the earth? You may have heard the rumor that the whole thing is a big sham – either a misguided to make ourselves feel better about our wasteful lifestyles, or worse a conspiracy of crystal-wearing, tree-hugging hippies.

You may have noticed a number of geeky environment-related posts on Unsought Input. Some of our writers like to think of themselves as environmentalists. Now, before you click your back button, I should explain: no one here will ever tell you to stop driving and live in a cave! We are positive, progressive environmentalists who come to our green views through a love of innovation, efficiency, scientific progress, and yes, even market economics.

So, is recycling a bunch of bullshit designed to make us all feel better about ourselves? Does putting glass and plastic in a green bin actually damage the environment more than help?

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Hybrid Concept Cars, The Future is Now Conclusion

If you have missed the first two articles on this topic you can read them here and here. In this grand finale, if I may call it that, I will show you the best of the best (in my opinion) of the concept cars recently reported on on yahoo.com. These I thought were either really cool looking and futuristic or had really cool ideas or that I just kind of liked more than the others. Anyway, without further ado, let’s start the “Hey, that’s cool” category.

In third place we have the Toyota Volta:

hybridcars_130_toyota.jpg

This car looks like it could go very very fast. It also looks like the maximum height you could possibly be to drive in this vehicle is 5’5″ and that is pushing the limit. I don’t know if this is the fastest electric hybrid on the market but with dual electric engines (one for each front tire) this car boasts that it has a 408 horsepower hybrid engine, the safety of all-wheel drive and can do 0-60 in just four seconds. Look at those desert dunes. This car is ready to climb them, but I am a little worried that the hills are too steep and those don’t really look like tires that get the best traction. So, maybe it’s not good to drive in the desert, but since no one really off roads their vehicles like they do in the commercials, I think this car might be OK. (more…)

Hybrid Concept Cars, The Future Is Now Part 2

So yesterday our cars of the future article was on “Didn’t they do this already”. I think today’s category is “Wouldn’t be Caught Dead in This”. You can try to persuade me that people buy cars based on power and performance all you want but I am pretty sure that the look and style of the car is pretty important, too. Just like no one will ever want to be seen in the environmentally friendly Hummer, I can imagine the same will be said of most of these vehicles.

In third place we have the Ford Mercury Meta One.

hybridcars_130_mercury.jpg

You may argue that this car isn’t necessarily the ugliest car you have ever seen, in fact it’s okay. Work with me here for a minute, if you please. Think back to that movie about the cars that try to kill people. You know the one, the really bad Stephen King movie, Maximum Overdrive? This car will eat you. And your children. And then your neighbors and their families until it runs out of gas, which will take a little longer than a normal SUV since this runs on nice and clean ” hybrid transmission with a twin-turbocharged V-6 diesel engine calibrated to run on a bio-diesel blend”. You can see how I feel this is potentially hazardous to everyone, right? Just look into those headlight “eyes”. Those are the headlights of a killer. (more…)