Imagine if computer technology was being held back by the need to include a 3.5″ floppy disk drive on all of the latest computers. Hey – how are Macbook Air users going to exchange Cardfile data without a floppy drive? You’d think I was insane, right?
Which is why it is bizarre to see this piece by American comedian Jay Leno in Autoweek arguing that American fuel standard rules requiring ethanol to be mixed in with petrol is bad – because his collection of vintage cars struggle with it. He wants to bring back the old, more polluting fuel instead.
Millionaire Leno explains the hardships he faces every day because of the ethanol requirements:
“As someone who collects old cars, and keeps them up religiously, I am now replacing fuel-pressure regulators every 12 to 18 months. New cars are equipped with fuel lines that are resistant to ethanol damage, but with older cars, the worst can happen—you’re going down the road, and suddenly your car is on fire.”
I know its hard, but hold back your tears. But why should we stop using all of that asbestos, just because it is a little bit poisonous?
The reason ethanol was mandated in the first place was for two major reasons: First and foremost, it cuts down on the amount of fossil fuels needed to run a car, and secondly, according to Phys.org, it is better for the environment, emissions-wise:
“According to the U.S. Department of Energy, nearly half of all the gasoline sold in the U.S. contains up to 10 percent ethanol, which not only boosts octane but also helps meet federally mandated air quality requirements. By promoting more complete fuel combustion, this small amount of ethanol mixed into gasoline reduces exhaust emissions of carbon monoxide — a regulated pollutant linked to smog, acid rain, global warming and other environmental problems — by as much as 30 percent compared with pure gasoline.”
Whilst obviously not as good for the environment as pure electric cars, it is a good start – and all modern cars apparently have engines capable of handling the mixed fuel.
The problem, as Leno has identified, is with older cars. And we’re not talking about cars from a few years ago (like you have an “old phone” from 2007) – we’re literally talking cars from the 1920s.
Its a cause that has Leno so animated, he wants to take political action too:
“It’s time for us as automobile enthusiasts to dig in our heels and start writing to our congressmen and senators about the Renewable Fuel Standard, or we’ll be forced to use even more ethanol. Most people assume, “Oh, that’ll never happen. They’ll never do that.” Remember prohibition? In 1920, all the saloons were closed. It took until 1933 before legal liquor came back.”
Clearly perspective is always going to be a challenge for a man with such a disproportionately-sized chin, but I can’t help but wonder if this is a little selfish? Here we have a technology that is demonstrably helping the environment (or at least not making things as bad as they could be), but Leno is saying “no” because it makes his hobby a little bit more difficult. There might even be valid scientific criticisms of ethanol (hey, I’m not a scientist), but Leno isn’t even predicating his argument on that – he’s just crying like a baby.
I sure hope that Leno’s Ford Model T can float, as it might need to when the ice caps melt.