A good analogy to describe life in the 21st century is it's like being an actor in a poorly written episode of the Twilight Zone that's televised on a continuous loop and can't be turned off. Let's temporarily forget about the Wall Street crooks that get paid multi-million-dollar retention bonuses to stick around in case they're needed to bankrupt their companies again, and move on to issues that are closer to the hearts of automobile enthusiasts. I'm talking about the contrived energy crisis, and all of the related baloney that goes with it. If there really were such a thing as impending doom from greenhouse gases the solution offered up by the powers that be would run on a more urgent timeline. Think about it, instead of pouring millions of tax dollars into subsidizing hydrogen-powered vehicles that might prove out in 20 years how about an effective change that could be put into action before the sun sets tonight? Zeroing in on a specific example brings me to the state of California's recent "cool paints" initiative introduced on March 12, 2009 to ban black paintjobs on automobiles and trucks. The trouble stems from the California Air Resources Board. CARB wants to mandate the phase-in of non-existent heat-reflecting paints on vehicles starting with the 2012 model year, with all colors meeting a 20 percent reflectivity requirement by the 2016 model year. The premise behind the black paint ban is to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions and improve fuel economy by keeping vehicles cooler on hot days and decrease the amount of time California drivers turn their air conditioning on. The folks at CARB are operating on the conclusion that air conditioning robs engine power and hurts fuel economy. The CARB brain trust concurs if vehicles have reflective paint, interiors will be cooler and drivers will use their air conditioning less, the A/C compressors won't have to work as hard and this means less gasoline will be consumed. Oh goody-goody, and all of this by 2016, that's wonderful, but if CARB really felt there was a problem there's an instant solution. The CARB folks could wake up tomorrow knowing they made the world a better place to live if they yanked the fuse out of their state-owned automobile's air conditioner. Imagine the instantaneous beneficial effects realized by disarming California's fleet of what must amount to thousands of vehicles burdened with air conditioning.
The undeniable proof the whole green movement is a bunch of hooey is the existence of gasoline-powered leaf blowers in California. With over 35 million people in California there has to be millions of leaf blowers burning hundreds of thousands of gallons of gasoline on a daily basis. There are some counties in California where leaf blowers are banned, but it's because of noise pollution and has nothing to do with gasoline consumption or what effects leaf blowers might have on air quality. If CARB really believed there was a problem I'm sure they would come up with a replacement technology that hasn't been invented yet, like a big stick with whiskers on the end that could be used to sweep dirt into a flat thing with a handle on it. Acting as a responsible global citizen the gardener could then throw it into the trash instead of blowing it into a neighbor's front yard. In my neighborhood, the gardeners like to show up on different days and then take turns blasting dirt and rocks onto my trucks. Thankfully water conservation isn't an issue in California, so I can flood the dirt off with water anytime that I want, and who cares about having their custom paint scratched.
Well, I'm getting towards the end where I need to wrap things up, but before I do I'd like to turn the folks at CARB onto a neat product I saw advertised on early morning television. It's called the Window Weasel and it's a solar-powered device that attaches to a car window which is slightly opened and circulates fresh air from the outside and keeps the car's interior much cooler while parked. The benefits advertised were more about creature comfort than energy conservation, but it offers a realistic solution to the problem. It's too bad the CARB guys don't get up real early like me and watch television, they would have known about this thing. Only time will tell who is right, the magazine editor with his factory-installed Window Weasel or CARB with their ban on black paintjobs.-John Gilbert