10 August 2006

Get killer cars tuned or choke

Following on from the below post on pollution in the UAE, here's what's happening in New Zealand to combat the effects of vehicle exhaust smoke, as reported in the NZ Herald.

As part of an awareness campaign to educate New Zealanders on the dangers of unhealthy levels of vehicle exhaust emissions, billboards like the one pictured are being erected in city streets.

As the vehicular fumes affect the billboard, the light text will darken and become more visible.

Over 24 hours on an Auckland street, the text had already gone from invisible to light grey.

Can you imagine what would happen if these boards were erected in Dubai?


trailingspouse said...

A great and very clever idea, but I suspect it would be a bit too subtle for this part of the world. What alternatives are they promoting in NZ? Public transit? Alternative fuels?

trailingspouse said...

Duh! Sorry, just read the title of your post . . . they are asking people to tune their cars, right? Do they not have some kind of mandatory periodic emissions testing in NZ yet?

nzm said...

trailingspouse: The blue words "awareness campaign" in my post is a link which will lead to the article on the NZ Herald website.

What they're asking people to do is:
- avoid making unnecessary car trips
- walk if the distance is walkable
- take public transport
- get their vehicles tuned and maintained

Alternative fuels such as CNG and LPG have been available for years, and during the fuel crisis in the early 80s, these were popular. But the cost of adapting a car to run on these gases proved to be a not very attractive ROI. For it to have worked, the authorities should have given an incentive rebate on the annual car registration to car owners who converted their vehicles to run on gas instead of petrol.

There is a Warrant of Fitness (WOF) required for vehicles in NZ which is either a 6 month or 12 month check depending on the vehicle's age. Reading the article it appears that emissions tests are part of it, although that surprises me because I thought that they already did this. I recall the testers sticking an emissions tester into the exhaust pipe of my car when I took it for testing. Of course, there will always be owners of the really bad vehicles who often don't take them in for the WOF - they prefer to run the risk of driving an unwarranted car which by law, is now also illegal and uninsured because of the expired WOF.

There's also a free hotline phone number where people can phone in to report vehicles which are smoking too much. Imagine that in Dubai - they'd need a thousand telephonists and Etisalat would make even more of a fortune! lol

Of course, it's a system which needs to be reviewed at great expense and time if new things are to be implemented - and it won't happen overnight.

But what I agree with is that they're asking people to take more personal responsibility to fix the issues and not default back to the government, local councils or even the police to enforce the rules. If this is successful, then there would be no need to review the system - but it all depends on the majority of the people to heed to the rules.

Seabee said...

Can you imagine what would happen if these boards were erected in Dubai?

Yep, drivers would be so keen to look at them and point them out to their passengers that we'd have even more accidents ;-)

moryarti said...

wow .. new template :)

Mise said...

@ seebee...lol...but they'd be jet black in 10 minutes.. we don't seem to have a smog problem in Ireland any more...banning smokey coal 20 years ago removed the most significant threat to health...anyway, we've got so much wind and rain coming from the Atlantic throughout the year that there doesn't seem to be a significant build up of pollutants in the atmosphere...although, just because we can't see it doesn't mean that it's not there.

Ozone build-up during the Summer months does cause respiratory problems for some people, such as those suffering from asthma.

Glad we don't have to depend on public transport though...it's pretty bad!

nzm said...

seabee: especially if they were on SZR or Al Sufouh Roads! But I suspect that mise is correct, they'd be black in no time!

moryarti: you haven't been around here for a while, huh? Too busy in San Jose, no doubt!

mise: the NZ Herald article also mentions asthma and respiratory ailments as a reason to tune cars in order to cut down on smog which affects the aged and those with respiratory problems. In some parts of NZ, both coal and wood burning fires have been banned, and it's worked.

Pandabonium said...

In the US, power generation is responsible for even more air pollution than cars. I grew up near LA and one of the reasons I left there in the 1970s was that I could sit on my porch and watch a bubble of smog move across my view and make the mountains - just a few miles away - disappear. I also remember flying a light plane into LA through an inversion layer, as we descended into the smog the smell was so strong it was walking into indoor public swimming pool.

Transport needs to change. We need to rearrange out lives so that it is not so necessary to use cars or burn fossil fuels for energy (by using less).

A world of Symphony said...

From what I heard through a friend in Auckland, the laws are pretty strict in NZ especially with the hole in the sky (ozone effect) is that true?

nzm said...

Pandabonium: that "indoor public swimming pool" smell is what we sometimes get on our 13th floor balcony when the smog layer is level with the apartment. Immediately my eyes start stinging, and it triggers memories of the countless hours that I spent after each school day in the Suva Olympic Pool training with the Dolphin Swimming squad!

Louis: NZ is getting tougher and tougher. As I wrote above, open fires in homes (switched to gas heating) are now banned in some cities and the crackdown on vehicle emissions is starting to make headway. NZ depends on its clean, green, pure marketing message to attract tourists, so it has a lot to lose if they're not tough.

NZ has a very high UV concentration, and skin burntime is a lot lower than in other parts of the world. You can get sunburnt in 10 mins down that part of the world! Even moving from Fiji we noticed it. The first summer, I got so burned that my skin blistered and I fainted! A tough way to learn the lesson!

A world of Symphony said...

So what you say is that the high UV concentration is directly attributed to the 'hole in the sky' effect in NZ or Antartica, yes? It's really scary when you cite skin blisters & getting burnt in under 10 minutes. I don't suppose Dubai would ever follow NZ's lead to attract tourists?

nzm said...

It has been linked to the hole in the ozone above Antarctica, but I'll have to research it to see if it's a scientific link - time for Google! :-)

And no, didn't get that burnt in 10 mins - the blister effect took about 4 hours of swimming and splashing around, and no suncream! It's worse if you're on a boat with the reflections off the water and the wind too.

Dubai - clean, green and pure? A long way to go from dusty, desert and dubious!

A world of Symphony said...

I like that comment about dusty, desert & dubious. I second that.

If you find a (scientific) or for that matter (layman) link viz. Ozone/Antartica, do pass it on please. Thanks.

Just out of curiosity, is it true that any one moving to NZ are required by the EPA Law to haul their packaging (bubble packs, styrofoam, pallets, etc.) material to a categorized dump zone? If so, then it's really a nice way of protecting Mother Earth, isn't it?

nzm said...

Well, as usual, when you start to research stuff like this, you find supporters and detractors!

Scientists from NZ's NIWA (National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research, say this in terms of the dilution effect, and this which explains UV and Ozone for students.

There is a HUGE amount of information on The Ozone Hole website.

Here's the topic explained in a discussion on skin cancer from which a proportionally high number of NZers and Australians suffer in relation to inhabitants in other countries.

Wikipedia has a comprehensive description with many links on Ozone depletion.

Predict Weather says that the whole thing is disingenuous tosh (copyright of that phrase belongs to Keefieboy!)

Wunderground also scoffs at it.

I find it interesting that weather websites choose to decry the scientific findings. I wonder why?

nzm said...

Louis: I haven't heard that there's a law which governs that, and the removal companies will take it away for you for recycling/reuse.

NZ is very active when it comes to recycling. As part of the weekly trash collection, we have separate bins in which to put recyclable items such as glass, recyclable grades of plastic, cans and papers. These are collected by a different truck to the normal garbage truck.

Bins for bottles/glass are located at strategic points around the cities for the public to use at will, as well as bins for old clothes which are collected and sold in op shops to raise money for charity.

The Resource Management Act is core legislation.

The RMA sets out how NZ manages its environment, including the effects on:
* air
* water
* soil
* biodiversity
* the coastal environment
* noise
* subdivision
* land use planning in general.

It's often an extremely complicated and frustrating process for anyone wanting to develop land to wade through before approval can be given to make modifications. However, it serves its purpose and enforces that due diligence is undertaken to ensure that what is built does not harm the environment during its construction and in the years after its completion.

I think that Dubai/UAE could also benefit from something along these lines!

nzm said...

Oh - and NZ also has Inorganic Rubbish Collections - I think these happen every 3 months or so, and each suburb has different dates for these collections.

This is when people put out their junk - old tvs, refrigerators, old furniture - stuff that they no longer need. It's then collected and either repaired and reused, or dismantled for scrap metal etc.

A world of Symphony said...

Where do I begin with all the wealth of information that you've sent my way? I shall be gone for a few days to review all that you've sent my way. Be back soon. Thanks again. Cheers.

A world of Symphony said...

'I think that Dubai/UAE could also benefit from something along these lines'

I think Dubai/UAE has a long way to go in this direction. First, such an initiative starts at the top. Second, priorities. Third, action.

Right now, the initiative/priority/action is focused in a totally different angle.

The Tart said...

Wow! Great idea.

The Tart
: )

Pandabonium said...

There is book that might be of interest. - "Stormy Weather - 101 Solutions to Global Climate Change" by Guy Dauncey and Patrick Mazza.

Most of the things discussed are of course directly related to the issues you bring up regarding polution.

It is very possitive from what I have learned of it (I have it on order) and takes a sometimes overwhelming subject and breaks it down into small bites with practical suggestions that people can do on a local level.

There is a good Real Audio video interview with Dauncey here: 101 Solutions

A world of Symphony said...

Pandabonium; is this book available in town or should I get it from Amazon?

nzm said...

Louis: Pandabonium is in Japan, so it might be cheaper for you to get it from Amazon! lol.

Pandabonium: Thanks for the recommended read, and am looking forward to watching the video. Am currently at work at our HQ in Berlin, Germany so will have to wait until after work to look at it!

Pandabonium said...

Sorry, I disappeared for a couple of days. Quite right - Amazon.