Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Reducing carbon footprint: Thou shalt act!

Continued from: So you drive a lot, huh?

There are some things that I do while traveling (especially driving) that are effective, and I wish to share these points with you -
  • Drive at the optimal speed for your car: Every car is engineered to supply optimal efficiency at a particular range of speeds. Find it out, and use it to your benefit! Out here, most cars are tuned to perform their best at 110 - 130 kmph. In different countries or cities, depending on the traffic conditions, the optimal speeds may be different - but, you get the most out of your fuel-tank when you know how to drive your car best.
  • Check the tire air-pressure: This is a very important detail often overlooked by drivers too lazy to bend once a month! Not only do correctly filled tires keep your car safe and save them from unnecessary wear, they also help supply superior mileage i.e. it saves you money to keep your tires at optimal pressure.
  • Don't shift to neutral, brake and shift-down: Shifting the gear to neutral well before the stop-point actually results in the engine idling the fuel away. Modern motors are capable of switching the fuel-supply off till the engine RPM breaches a certain lower limit. (also called Schubabschaltung in German) Applying the brake without shifting to neutral helps you use this feature. Shifting your gears to neutral too early will cause the engine to reach the idling RPM immediately and hence it will continue consuming fuel while you are decelerating. You can make even better use of this feature by switching to lower gears till you reach a low speed such that the engine remains at a high-rpm while braking!
  • Diesel is no longer dirty: I don't know why, but Diesel gained a reputation of being unclean and noisy. This is not true any more. Diesel has the great advantage of supplying more energy per unit fuel than any variety of Gasoline / Petrol you see out there. Good diesels make full use of this advantage to supply better mileage than their Gasoline counterparts and come equipped with a particle-filter et al that keep the exhaust clean as it can get. If you need more incentive, then here's it - Diesel motors have a higher torque than gasoline-counterparts of the same capacity and supply great acceleration!
  • Share your trip, pool your car: It makes sense.
  • Don't drive with windows open at high speeds: The drag caused by open windows can reduce the fuel efficiency of a car by up to 15%.
This helps the environment and keeps a conscientious driver from feeling overtly guilty too!

Monday, July 16, 2007

So you drive a lot, huh?

I love driving! Anybody who knows me will tell you that. Driving coupled with a love for traveling and photography is an enriching hobby. Yet, there is a problem, or a guilt-conscience if you will.

How do I manage to get these thoughts in my mind, and all of a sudden?
I really don't know, but in this case, a probable cause is definitely this:

55555+ kms of travel in 15 months. Reason to celebrate? Read on...

It's the instrument cluster of my car that tells a story of great thrill, fantastic memories, lots of travel... 55569 kms of it, to be precise. Here is a rough indication of the distances covered.

As you can see - most of West Europe...

Places visited...

So, where is the problem?
The money spent? No, the extravagance was definitely worth the experience.

The problem is evidently elsewhere.
It's a constant realization of the fact that modern day pleasures actually change the world for good. 'Huh?' - if that were your reaction, you would not be to blame! Most of us use the environment without even giving it it's due thought.

To cut a long story short - my excitement of having done 55500-odd kms in the last 15 months was soon drowned by thoughts of my "carbon imprint". Yes, 55000 kms in 15 months that don't even include the 2 months spent in India, in the US and in Barcelona when my car was all but parked! Even those months of not using the car involved traveling by air, or on land in the destination countries - in other words, my carbon footprint never lost track of me!

In the next section, I discuss steps on reducing the carbon footprint of road-travel...

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Life is a roller coaster... !

My employer hosted a Summer Party at Holiday Park in Hassloch (Germany) that lays claim to having the best roller coaster in Europe - one that even held the record in 2004 for being the fastest in the world. Being one that loves to try these things out, I had to subject this contraption to myself!

"Expedition GeForce" as it's been called lived up to it's reputation of being a real thriller and subjecting those on board to a gut-wrenching 4.5G! I was unfortunately not allowed to take my camera on board, but here is a YouTube video that tells the story very well...

BTW, that's the first video I've hosted on my BLOG!