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The Aquilian

A dying passion: American car culture

My father’s Acura Integra

Ever since I was able to reach the pedals on my father’s 2001 white two-door Acura Integra, I have been addicted to the sights and sounds of cars. 

Many students may not know that car enthusiasts like myself feel like the car industry is in jeopardy and needs to be saved. Gas taxes are part of the obstacles that car enthusiasts face. The first line of defense put up against people buying fuel inefficient cars is the Gas Guzzlers Tax. The tax was enacted in 1978 as part of the Energy Tax Act. The amount of the tax varies based on a vehicle’s combined fuel-economy average and ranges from $1,000 to $7,700.

These types of attacks occur on cars that appeal to the car community of America, and it would be a sin against Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company, and Karl Benz, builder of the first automobile, to get rid of the American car culture completely, and these taxes can keep car enthusiasts from being able to add to or invest more in their collections. Many people do not realize that the roaring V8s and super fast drag racers contribute to the rich culture evident in America today.

Cars are not the only means of transportation that negatively contribute to the environment. According to an article by Emily Atkins of Wired entitled “Germany Has Proven the Modern Automobile Must Die,” the production of carbon dioxide through cars, planes, trains, freight and ships contributes to nearly 30% of the United States’ total greenhouse gas production. Despite this, many environmentalists target only the pollution from the car industry.

I am advocating for an America that uses fuels in a more responsible way. We can cut down on fuel consumption without getting rid of our rich car culture. For example, Germany has a car culture that has not faltered over its 100 years of its existence, yet Germany has cut down its greenhouse gasses production 27.7 percent in 11 years. Germany’s responsible use of fuels  allows companies such as Audi, BMW and Mercedes Benz to produce their faster and more fuel inefficient cars. 

Almost every Gonzaga senior drives a car, but unless parents have money to pay the premium for an electric or hybrid car, the school’s population will continue to contribute to America’s most polluting sector. And while many Americans do have a fuel efficient car, if they have a second car, it’s often a gas hog, like a Chevrolet Suburban or Ford Explorer. For example, a study conducted by Yale, UC Davis and MIT stated that a normal household that owns two cars will tend to replace one of them with something not fuel efficient; this decision erodes over 60% of the fuel savings from the first car. This is exactly why it is almost pointless to start praising people for driving fuel efficient cars.

I find it very hypocritical to see Gonzaga putting up solar panels if we are still allowing seniors to use their car during the school day. Every lunch period I see students sitting in cars with their engines on, sitting in idle and hurting the environment. I find it funny to think we spent all this money to put up this garage and the solar panels, yet we do not enforce rules against leaving car engines on during the day. In addition to putting up solar panels, we need to do small things, too, like enforcing a no-engine idle rule at Gonzaga if we truly want to show that we care about helping the environment. 

Currently, Britain fines against idling in parked cars. The law states that a fine of 20 to £80 is dispensable. Even with this amount of money, there are pushes for repeated offenders in London to increase the fine to £1000. If America wants to tackle the epidemic of pollution, then it should start enforcing rules similar to this one, and local schools could help a lot encouraging a stop to idle parked cars that are on. 

As a young American man who loves cars and what can be done to them, I believe that cars should be made with little or no limits. I am not promoting the destruction of the environment, but I want to enforce laws that make us more responsible with cars. If we can stick to strict rules, then the car culture in American will be able to stay, and the environment’s critical health will improve.

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