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Image courtesy Amelia B.

Air Quality

Time To Turn Off The Engine

The momentum is building in Australia for anti-idling zones around schools. The UK and Southern California have already brought in bans for ICE cars idling in drop-off zones. Research study after research study is showing the damage that diesel and petrol exhaust do to young, developing lungs. Not to mention that air pollution contributes to the spread of covid-19.

It is winter in Queensland. That means dry balmy days with temperatures peaking in the mid 20s (Celsius)/mid 70s (Fahrenheit). Yet, parents are sitting in their cars outside schools with the engines running. I can understand this in summer when aircon is a necessity and it is humid and pushing 40 — but surely not winter. I am forced to walk past this long line of smelly vehicles with my two granddaughters to get to where I have parked my Tesla.

Image by David Waterworth. Granddaughter plugging in the exhaust-free fuel nozzle.

Some little children are just the same height as the exhaust pipes coming from the back of the giant SUVs, which are the must-have vehicles for suburban mums. The most vulnerable are copping the biggest lungful. It’s ironic that in some of the poorer suburbs, the cars are bigger and idling the most — those least able to afford it are paying more for wasted fuel.

“Strewth, real Aussie muscle in this car!” they say to each other as they compare engine sizes and torque. No one seems to worry about consumption. Is it the new smoking? 

As a side note, one of my daughters works as a scientist analyzing the combustibility of coal. We have some interesting conversations. She pointed out to me that during last year’s covid lockdowns, people (and hence their cars) stayed home, but the fossil fuel–run power stations stayed operational. The air was remarkably clearer and the view of the mountains crystal.

Image courtesy Amelia B.

Related story: Here’s How One Teenager Is Taking A Stand Against Car Idling

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Written By

David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He is long on Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA].


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