Tire Gauges of the World - - UNITE!

Last week, Senator Obama called on American drivers to properly inflate their tires as one of many ways we can cut our energy bills and our carbon footprints simultaneously. Although this simple call to action was caught up in political silliness (including a cameo by Paris Hilton!), the idea of working our way out of our energy and climate change challenges is exactly the right one.

Dell just announced the sale of its new Studio Hybrid PC that uses 70% less electricity than a standard computer. When I was in China last month, government officials there told me that their average computer is five years old and that they will be replacing millions of state computers in the next few years - - not because of outdated systems, but to save energy. That sounds like an opportunity for Dell and any other company smart enough to realize that energy efficiency translates into profits.

In today’s New York Times, even oil giant Exxon is running an ad that quantifies the benefits to fuel economy and the environment by more efficient driving, including properly inflated tires. That add also reminds us to empty the trunk - - most of us carry stuff in the trunk that we rarely use. Those added pounds make the engine work harder and burn more fuel, so lightening the load will also lighten the fuel bill every month.

Last month at FL Governor Charlie Crist’s climate summit, CA Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said the only person who can lower your energy bills is YOU. He pointed out that offshore oil drilling or investigating oil speculators won’t change the price of anything soon (or ever), but driving the speed limit, inflating your tires, installing compact fluorescents, or taking other energy efficiency measures with your home, office, of car will deliver immediate and significant results.

I think that most of us are ready to DO something, instead of just hoping that politicians have a quick fix for our energy and environmental challenges. Maybe a tire gauge is as good a place to start as any - - and maybe we can use some of that hot air from the campaign trail in our tires instead of on the airwaves!

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  • Jay Tatum

    Personally, I think we should invest in Transporter Beam Technology as a viable option for our transportation needs. Forget the tire gauges and gas guzzling automobiles - just beam me up, Scotty.

  • David Marcus

    I wish I understood the obsession with the automobile as the single source of oil consumption in America. Do we not heat our water and heat millions of our homes with oil? Is oil not an input to virtually every product made and a factor in the price of every product transported? Do we not have a military that needs to burn thousands of gallons to fly jets, move aircraft carriers, drive tanks? Do we not have domestic air transportation consuming enormous amounts of AvGas with thousands of daily flights? Do we not enjoy cruise liners that consume almost incomprehensible amounts of fuel on every 3 day journey? Are there not enormous container ships moving millions of products daily?

    Every single product, whether it is plastic, fabric, steel or even that brand new Prius requires a tremendous amount of oil. Metals are heated repeatedly to cast them to strength. Ceramics are put into kelms three times and heated to 4 figure temperatures. Fabrics, such as found in airbags, are chemically treated and passed through heated rollers for drying.

    Folks, oil is an input. Any strong country will consume oil, and tons of it, regardless of how many Hummers or conversely Priuses are on the road. You can not run a big rig with 2200lb torgue on a battery operated electric engine. Holding trillions of barrels of oil hostage is not the answer.

    To claim that this is only a Demand side issue is absolutely wrong. The Demand for oil is not purely a function of driving. It's required for all aspects of industrialized nations. Individual changes, tire inflations and the like can only shift the demand curve so much. This was demonstrated as we reduced our miles driven by a record amount in July '08 and saw only a small decrease in price.

    This is proof that the demand curve is steep. Yes a small change in price at the pump can impact our driving but it takes very large changes to make any significant decrease in quantity demanded such as paying to install a natural gas water heater, buying a new Prius, etc. We all still have to get to work, truckers still haul, products still get produced, the military still operates. The Supply curve, is very shallow because it is not within our control unless we drill domestically. OPEC exports to us whatever they want. The top 20 exporters have all, unilateraly, reduced output to America. (Let's not kid ourselves into believing they're not a monopoly). The result is shifts in the demand curve inward (driving less) have only minor changes in price while shifts outward of the supply curve(drilling locally) create dramatic decreases in price especially when coupled with speculators.

    This is an industrialized country and will consume oil. We will work towards alternative solutions for such items as automobiles but meanwhile, let's shift our supply curve outward to hold back inflation, shift the demand curve inward by being conscientious of our behavior, and work towards advancements in renewal energy sources, rather than pretending $4 gas is a good thing. It is not.