I’m thinking of the scene in the movie “The Day the Earth Stood Still” – the original (1951) “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” motion picture, a classic, with actress Patricia Neal and actor Michael Rennie, each of whom had leading (starring) roles – that shows a blackout of sorts: anything and everything electricity-driven is rendered powerless, inactive and that includes cars, a train, etc. It just so happened that, compressed-time-wise, this so-called “stand-still” period in the film lasted a half-hour total.
Carrying this idea one step farther, what if the driving part of the equation was rendered null and void for what: say, 24 hours?
Well, what if?
What has just been depicted, in effect, is a page out of the past, a time during which there was no such thing as an automobile, automation. A far simpler time indeed or so it would seem.
So, as applied in the present day, in the United States alone, some 253 million motor vehicles of varying description would be idled.
And, what would this mean?
Okay, let’s say per-capita per-year driving is, on average, 10,000 miles. Dividing that number by 365 for the number of days in a year, that works out to 27.3972 miles per day (mpd) or, in rounding up, up to the tenths column, 27.4 mpd.
Now let’s also say that average vehicle fuel economy is, by coincidence, 27.4 miles per gallon (mpg). What this would mean is that for every 27.4 miles driven, the amount of fuel consumed per vehicle on average for those 253 million motor vehicles would be one gallon.
So, for a moratorium on driving lasting 24 hours, 253 million gallons of gasoline, diesel, etc. would be saved.
Put a different way, that’d be like removing 253 million vehicles from America’s roads on any given day. Or put yet another way still, that would be the equivalent of not adding 4,968,920,000 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) to the air as each gallon of gasoline burned releases 19.64 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere. That’d be the savings, if, in America, no one drove for a day.
Well, the probability of that actually happening is pretty miniscule or just about as likely as:
- finding the lost city of Atlantis if there ever was such a thing, or
- an atom-smashing exercise occurring within the Large Hadron Collider that results in the formation of a black hole which swallows up everything in its own limits, or
- space-related, me being “beamed” over to some far-flung planet in some distant galaxy/solar system capable of supporting and sustaining life.
So, coming back down to Earth (getting back on topic, in other words), what if achieving the equivalent end result could be done another way? What I’m talking about is improved vehicle fuel-economy ratings from say an average 27.4 to 28.4 mpg. As long as per-capita, per-day driving didn’t increase by a mile there would be net improvement.
It would mean that for the typical driver, on average less than a gallon of gasoline would be consumed in per-day driving. Even if a tenth of a gallon were saved, multiply that times 253 million vehicles and over the duration of one day, that’s 25.3 million gallons of fuel not burned. And, if that were the case every day, wow!
Finally, I would just like to express, that if the price of a gallon of gas went unchanged for an entire year, it probably would not, but let’s say it did, with the one gallon of improved fuel-consumption performance per vehicle, for all drivers driving America’s roadways daily, if the cost for a gallon of gasoline were $2.50, that would mean an extra $2.50 in the wallet every day. Add that up over the course of a year, and that’d be enough money to cover a goodly proportion of annual motor vehicle maintenance and repair expenses. And, with the mileage-ratings improvement, comes an air benefit, of course!
– Alan Kandel