California: inflate those tires, and no more party string

sillystring.jpg

11-year-olds must make sacrifice for climate change — no more silly string! California is here to help pave the way.

NASA scientist James Hansen is fond of saying that there are no silver bullet solutions to climate change, but rather silver buckshot — lots of little solutions that add up to the change necessary to avoid catastrophe.

California has explored this path, with a structured survey to examine what types of small policy changes undertaken now could qualify for silver buckshot awards. Put differently, regulators are exploring what changes should be made now so that the goals of California’s landmark AB32 bill are achievable.

The Air Resources Board, the group tasked with making sure you can actually breathe while ogling the California lifeguards, has published (pdf) a revised list of early-action measures showing no fewer than 60 potential little fixes that could help California meet its ambitious goal of reducing 2020 emissions to 1990 levels.

Nothings is too small for consideration. Consider the popular TerraPass conservation tip of inflating your tires. We all know that properly inflated tires can increase your gas mileage by about 3%. Soon, when you get your tune-up in California, someone will check your tires for you to make sure they are properly inflated. That simple check is predicted to shave 540,000 metric tons of CO2 in the first year of operation.

Simple, small and workable policy changes lead to noticeable progress at little or no cost. Wow. No magical ponies were harmed in this policy!

Also on the list are restrictions on high global warming potential consumer products like keyboard cleaners, tire inflation cans and, yes, silly string. Eliminating these little cans of climate destroying party fun will save 250,000 metric tons of CO2, about the same as 50,000 cars coming off the road.

That a seems like a pretty easy reduction at minimal cost, with the exception of a few dismayed 11-year-old boys.

Photo available from flickr user Michael (mx5tx) under a Creative Commons license.

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tom

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  1. Anonymous - September 12, 2007

    I wonder why we don’t go back to “full service” at gas stations. I haven’t run the numbers, but it’s possible that gas station attendants more than pay for themselves in better mileage due to properly inflated tires, maintaining proper fluid levels, etc. I think New Jersey still has attendandants, but they are not exactly full service and simply pump the gas.

  2. Chad - September 12, 2007

    Great article but one comment: I believe that the California recommendations involve removing high greenhouse potential propellants from aerosol cans like party string and tire inflation cans, not eliminating the products, so even 11-year-old boys should not be dismayed.

  3. lkhoyt - September 12, 2007

    I think this is a great place to start. As you say, there’s very little downside. Now if they would ban those sealed plastic cups with half a sliced apple inside…the “pudding pak” treatment of fresh fruit. I mean, for pete’s sake, if you can’t eat an apple without having it sliced, packaged in plastic to three times the total volume, and shipped across the country under refrigeration, you don’t deserve an apple.
    While we’re at it, let’s ban lunchables.

  4. Anonymous - September 12, 2007

    I just wanted to mention that Oregon still has gas station attendants, but they do not check you tire pressure.

  5. Tom Arnold - September 12, 2007

    Chad:
    Good catch — engineers could probably reformulate the product, but even the best gases have global warming potentials in the hundreds. That’s pretty big progress, but its still a good idea to give your kids a ball of wool or a water gun rather than these cans.

  6. Anonymous - September 12, 2007

    I’ve heard that our troops in Iraq use this “silly
    string” to tell them when a room is “booby-trapped,”
    thus saving lives. And that the moms who put up those
    “care packages” for the troops often include a can of
    “silly string” for them, and that it is very much
    appreciated, since it saves lives. Just a thought…

  7. Tom Arnold - September 12, 2007

    Wow, Anon. Very interesting application (although sad that the military doesn’t spec this and that our families have to send these across.
    I think if the military got involved, they could surely convince a manufacturer to make a version with lower environmental impact.

  8. Anonymous - September 12, 2007

    Just wondering – how often does one need to check their tire pressure? How many miles of driving lower the tires pressure?

  9. Tom Arnold - September 12, 2007

    I check mine every couple of months. Its just time that matters — even if we haven’t driven in a month, the tires will still be a bit lower.
    You can also save yourself a trip and buy a handy tire pressure gauge.

  10. Anonymous - September 13, 2007

    Silly argument or silly string? Gads sometimes you don’t know if you should laugh or cry. Lets see can anyone tell me which release more co2 into the atmosphere, silly string or a NASA shuttle launch?
    WHAT you mean higher pressures in car tires make it roll easier just like my bike?
    Next we’ll learn a lighter car just like a lighter bike is more efficient.
    Off topic, saw the PBS special on “Global Dimming” last week. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/sun/
    In the program it was stated that sometime around 50 million years ago the planet was much much warmer then it was today. Hmmm interesting, unfortunately no explanation was given on how it then cooled. Even this article reveals no reason. I ask but how? http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/05/31/news/climate.php?page=1

  11. Alice - September 18, 2007

    Per The Car Guys, I recomend using a higher quality pressure gauge. Not thoes like a pen but one with a dial on it. Also, it’s best to check tires when they are cold i.e. before driving.

    Someone should market a self pumping pressure spray bottle for cleaning computer keyboards. A spray bottle like that is made for spraying cooking oil (although in that application I haven’t found them to work very well. They get gummed up- but they can’t get clogged with air!) All that would be needeed is the tiny tube that goes in the nozzel.