The Not-So-Glory Days Of Muscle Cars

I love the sound of a big V8 engine.

This past week, I encountered a high-performance “muscle car”—a relic of the 60s and 70s—as as I drove home just before sunset. It was a Pontiac G.T.O., a car with a 400 horsepower V8 engine and a throaty exhaust system. They rumble. They are a huge symbol of machismo.

I rolled my window down so I could hear the majestic sound of this big engine. I was immediately bowled over by the smell of the exhaust. It was toxic. I rapidly rolled the window up so as to not be asphyxiated by the overwhelming smell.

We have evolved (a) to not need these heavily polluting cars, and, (b) government regulations dictate permissible exhaust emissions that improve the standards each year.

Back in the 1960s, you would have barely known that Silicon Valley was surrounded by mountains due to the air pollution. The vast majority of days, you could not see the mountains that make Silicon Valley a valley. The population of Santa Clara County has grown from 642,000 people in 1960 to about 1.9 million in 2018.

Imagine if the government had ignored the need to regulate exhaust emissions. The argument against catalytic converters (which are standard on all cars produced in the U.S.) was the incremental cost would adversely impact the sale of automobiles. It didn’t happen. Catalytic converters and other government regulations make Silicon Valley habitable.

Yesterday (April 22nd), Earth Day was celebrated in nearly 200 countries across the globe. This event was initially celebrated in 1970 and was intended to raise ecological awareness and recognize the fragility of our planet. It’s still an important issue: clean air, clean water, sustainability, climate change are very real issues. It’s not okay to ignore the issues that make Earth Day necessary.


Thought for the week:

“Self-discipline is crucial to a simpler, more contented life.” – His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama

What do you think? I welcome your comments! Dave Gardner

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