Gadabout guilt trips of the 'Green Sheet'

By Eric Peters
Copyright 1998 The Washington Times
May 5, 1998

Most people buy a car or truck to move themselves and their families around - not to appease white collar hippies who worship fuel efficiency like some latter-day Golden Calf.

But there it is nonetheless: "The Green Guide to Cars and Trucks," published by something called the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE.)

I've never heard of this outfit and I'm sure you never have, either. "American Council" probably means a handful of vengeful leftists living in a D.C. apartment. "Energy Efficient Economy," meanwhile, would translate into "Keep the Masses in Check" if run through a computer program capable of translating cant.

Anyhow, the "Green Guide to Cars" is what you'd expect: A tiresome nag sheet that works hard to instill guilt in people for basing their purchasing decisions primarily upon safety, utility and performance - not neurotic overconcern with fuel economy.

Sport-utility vehicles, large cars with V-8 and V-6 engines get the Bronx Cheer while anything with tin-foil doors and a three cylinder engine receives the environmental equivalent of the Order of Lenin.

The guide lists the "greenest" model cars and trucks by class -and - surprise! - popular models like the Lincoln Navigator SUV, Ford Crown Victoria, Lexus GS400 and Chevy Camaro get knocked cold.

Between harangues against the internal combustion are mini- broadsides written with fulsome, sententious ignorance about "the climate-threatening effects of fossil fuel use" and "persistent air pollution" that makes "cleaning up cars as important as ever."

That's dandy - but these folks should quit lying to the public - or else take a few hours to bone up on the truth about modern cars and trucks.

And what is that truth? New cars don't pollute. By any standard based on facts, logic and reason. Greenie Weenies ought to be ecstatic about the modern internal combustion engine. Al Gore should be skipping across the South Lawn, a dandelion clenched between his teeth. Want to clean up the planet? Then trade in that carbon monoxide spewing '68 Beetle for a new one.

Late model cars and trucks -those built within the past decade - emit almost no harmful pollution as compared to the cars of the 1960s and before. Output of oxides of nitrogen and other smog precursors has been reduced more than 95 percent since the adoption of catalytic converters, electronic fuel injection and computerized engine management systems. This has been true since at least the mid-1980s.

Put that in your bong and smoke it, man.

Several 1998 and 1999 models (Lexus RX300, Honda Accord, Nissan Sentra) are so clean they meet the "Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle" standard set by the notoriously strict California Air Resources Board. The ULEV standard is only a tick above the "zero emissions" electric car standard.

Functional, affordable transportation and clean air are not incompatible. The tie-dyed brigades know all this - but continue to dissemble. Or they trot out the new lie about carbon dioxide being a "pollutant" - a lie so brazen that earlier, less ignorant generations of Americans would have jeered at it.

CO2 is a harmless, inert gas -and the last significant byproduct aside from water vapor - of internal combustion. It is vital to plant growth. But radical car haters know if they can paint CO2 as a "harmful pollutant" that causes "global warming," they will have an unanswerable trump card. Burning gasoline in an internal combustion engine will always produce CO2. To curb C02 output, we'd have to curb use of automobiles - and lawn mowers, weed wackers, mopeds . . . get the drift?

And that's the agenda behind all these "Green" PR campaigns, car buying guides and harangues on the evening news. If you don't believe this, you had better get religion.

"Our guide fills a void in current consumer car buying information," opines ACEEE front man John DeCicco. "Consumers can now shop with the environment in mind."

The only void, however, is between Mr. DeCicco's ears - and the ears of those who buy into the specious claptrap peddled by The Green Guide to Cars and Trucks.

Get a haircut and get a real job.

Eric Peters writes on automotive issues for The Washington Times.

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