Took a ride through the graves and tombs out behind the zoo few weeks back. It's a rather trippy metaphor, with the tombs next to a trash incinerator and laying to rest in clouds of smog.
I’ve never met someone living in Taiwan that didn’t complain about the air pollution at least once or twice. Though I must admit it has improved since I first lived here five years ago, there is a long way to go.
For those of you who don’t know, turning off your car or scooter at a stop light is one of the absolute best ways to reduce your contribution to air pollution on the island. Just look around. Look at all these two-stroke scooters. They’re just pumping toxic exhaust into the atmosphere all day, more harmful than 4-stroke and most car engines.
Here are some facts:
Idling does affect the environment. Keep in mind that every gallon of gas you use produces about 19 pounds of carbon dioxide, about 5 pounds per liter.
Idling contributes to respiratory illness. The emissions of even today’s modern vehicles contain Carbon Monoxide, Nitrogen Oxide, Sulfur Dioxide, Benzene and several other toxic chemicals that impair our lungs and heart. Prolonged exposure can lead to death. Children, the elderly, and individuals with asthma are especially at high-risk.
Idling wastes fuel. Idling your vehicle for more than just 10 seconds uses more fuel than restarting your engine.
Idling wastes fuel. Idling your vehicle for just 10 minutes can use as much fuel as it takes to travel 5 miles or 8 kilometers.
Idling wastes fuel. Idling your vehicle for 10 minutes a day uses more than 27 gallons or 100 liters of fuel a year.
It’s a myth that turning off and restarting your car or scooter uses more gas. And the impact on components in your vehicle is negligible, far cheaper in the short- and long-run than the amount you would spend on gas each year idling.
How many times have you been stuck behind some old ayi spewing out that wispy white smoke? How many times have you lined up in the back of the box and felt smothered in the pulsating exhaust of the guy in front of you? How many times have you gone home and wiped black gunk out of your eyes and off your face?
I hit two 100-second long lights on my commute each morning. Having tried a myriad of ways to avoid these lights, I still haven’t found a suitable alternative course. So, I’m stuck. If my timing is even a couple seconds off, my commute goes from around 12 minutes to 17. Thanks to these lights.
And yet, every day, almost every single scooter pulls up, sits there, idles, idles, idles… idles some more. 99, 98, 97… idling. 56, 55, 54… just watching the countdown… idling. And… idling. (For those of you who don’t know, Taiwan’s traffic lights, with the exception of rainy days, countdown how long you have to wait)
So, please, lend a hand. Just a twist of the wrist really. Turn off your scooter or car at long lights, and let us all breathe a sigh of relief.