Saving the planet

Kitty Cat

Kitty Cat

I do my bit to save the environment. I recycle all my empty wine bottles, I use hessian shopping bags, and I drive a crumbling Jaguar with a three litre engine. The hessian shopping bags cause no controversy, and the wine bottles only minimal controversy, more because of their quantity than their being recycled. It’s the Jag that raises eyebrows.

However, half of the environmental cost associated with a car is incurred in building it and scrapping it, and the other half the emissions it produces. Admittedly, the Jag probably produces more in the way of exhaust gases than a Skoda Fabia, for example, but there’s a lot more Jag than there is Skoda Fabia, too. Fabia sounds like the Latin for bean, though, and beans are famous for their exhaust gases, but I digress.

If I hadn’t bought the Jag, it might well have ended up being scrapped. When I tell people it was cheap, they counter with, “What about petrol, though?” With those concerns, most people would plump for the Skoda, resulting in the Jag being scrapped. That’s half a Jag and an entire Skoda Fabia into the environmental equation. You’d need to get through a lot of petrol to balance that.

Admittedly, the Jag is a little thirstier than a Skoda Fabia or a Kia Picanto (is that a kind of Maori hot pepper?). However, on the motorway, the petrol consumption isn’t too bad. It’s pootling around that really gets through the stuff. Keeping a Jag going at sixty or seventy doesn’t cost much more than keeping a Jag going at twenty-five. You have to get it up to sixty in the first place, of course, but unlike with the Skoda or the Kia, that doesn’t take long. The Jag does nought to sixty in less than seven seconds, so you can be saving the environment while the Kia in the other lane is still nosing away from the lights.

The main problem with saving the environment in a Jag is the environment itself, with all the sissy speed limits, the road humps, and the traffic calming, which slow you down, making you spend more on petrol, and leading to more emissions. Buses also have a big environmental impact. They rarely have more than three or four passengers on board, they belch out great clouds of evil smelling diesel fumes, and they creep along, stopping all the time, and jamming up the traffic. Following a bus up a hill in a Jag does the environment no favours at all, what with the bus’s exhaust and the Jag’s petrol consumption at low speeds.

Bus lanes might have been a solution to the problem, by keeping the buses out of the proper traffic, except that the bus lanes frequently seem to do the opposite, by allowing the buses to pull out in front of proper traffic, thereby slowing everything down and adding to environmental pollution. Furthermore, none of the other slow moving rubbish like camper vans and horse boxes is allowed in the bus lanes, either. To my mind, the way to save the environment is to scrap the speed limits and have Jag lanes instead of bus lanes, for cars that are travelling over sixty miles an hour. Of course, it needn’t be restricted to Jags. Porsches and Maseratis and Pontiac Firebirds probably work at least as well, and the Kia Picanti and Skoda Fabiae could feed in once they’d got up to speed, leaving the buses to grind their slow and smelly way through the world without forcing the rest of us to join them in polluting it.

What do you think? Have I got a future as an advisor on transport policy?

17 thoughts on “Saving the planet

  1. Whilst you have put your case very eloquently Francis…. and making a good case for retaining your Jag… an advisor on transport policy? Not a cat’s chance in hell x

  2. As an advisor on transport policy I suspect you’d be as good as most and better than many, Francis. I too have a big lump of an engine in my daily transport. As you say, it’s the start/stop town stuff that’s the killer for the wallet and the environment. You might be more at one with yourself if you could offset the carbon footprint of the Jag. I think that once upon a time offsetting your footprint meant skipping, but these days, it means doing something like leaving it at home one day a week where you would take a Kia Peculiar out for a spin. Or keeping loads of orchids to devour all the extra carbon monoxide. Or something.

  3. Living in Cambridge I had a smashing lift in an air-conditioned Jag out to the Gog Magog hills, and since then have had no prejudice against any car as long as they give lifts to bona-fide students. I also had a lift in a farmer’s pig van and have worn perfume ever since.

    • Thanks, Vicki. Just before I bought my Jag, I gave a hitch hiker a lift, and he told me that Jag drivers never stop for hitch hikers. I’ve passed two, in both cases because there was nowhere to stop. Otherwise, I’m still stopping, whether for students, kids, crusties, or whoever. Some of them have smelt. My air-conditioning is bust, too.

  4. The engineers at Ford (I worked there for a decade) used to say that the Jaguar was always the best looking car on the side of the road. Until they bought the company. 😉 I don’t suppose the real issue where fuel economy is concerned is how fast you go from 0-60, but whether you’re running on six cylinders or eight. This from a woman who is driving a 1993 Toyota Tercel that will probably run until the body falls off the motor.

    • Thanks, Paula. My Jag has let me down twice (battery both times), and I had to limp to the garage with a cracked radiator another time, but it’s otherwise been reliable. Most British cars only have four cylinders, but the Jag has six. Very economical 🙂

  5. Interesting and thought-provoking post, Francis. I had a Skoda once and it was disastrous for the environment due to the diesel exhaust fumes produced by all the tow-trucks that had to remove it from the roadside to the nearest garage. That, of course, was back in the good old days before Skoda was bought by Volkswagen and turned into something approaching a normal car. I shall leave you now with a joke from the seventies: What do you call a Skoda when it’s carrying all the week’s groceries? A Lada.

    • My dad had a Lada (but not when I was a lad). It was the colour of vomit, and it rattled more than a tin shed in a gale. I still can’t bring myself to think well of Eastern European cars.

  6. Pingback: Saving the planet (again) | Francis Potts

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