Some twenty years ago, mogul Ted Turner sought to create an animated series that would capture the imagination of the youth of the early 1990s by appealing to what he hoped would be their growing sense of responsibility to clean up a world that increasingly needed cleaning up. Turner’s target audience, a group of kids already primed by highly promoted events like Earth Day, responded favorably to Captain Planet and the Planeteers, a cartoon that focused on superhero Captain Planet and his multicultural gang of adolescents out to save the earth from such dangers as pollution and poachers. Two decades later, the seeds sown by Turner and his eco-friendly avenger are being reaped as Americans remain highly interested in attempts to “go green” and behave in planet-saving measures that Captain Planet would eagerly approve.
Perhaps fueled by impressions that they are not contributing to the cleanup of the planet, trucks – big rigs, pickups, even garbage trucks – are beginning to find ways of going green as well.
In Ann Arbor, MI, the city has received funding through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Program to employ “green machines,” garbage trucks that use hydraulics instead of batteries to store energy. This less-costly system is 30 percent more fuel efficient. Hydraulics launch assist differs from popular hybrid technology by utilizing a pump motor and a tank to store energy that would otherwise be lost when braking. Ann Arbor energy programs manager Andrew Brix claims that this new system will save the city $9,120 in fuel per year. And because the brakes will require less maintenance, the city will accrue savings of $3,300 a year. Other service vehicles with high fuel consumption, such as city buses, are now under consideration as well.
Semis (or heavy-duty combination tractors) are heavy fuel consumers, thirstily drinking up twenty percent of all vehicle fuel. Spurred on by mandates from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to maintain fuel efficiency, it appears that new standards and regulations will force truck manufacturers to utilize ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and improve fuel efficiency. Government proponents of these measures believe that the savings incurred by these rules would be passed on to the consumer and would also create jobs.
According to the Energy Information Administration, modern diesel fueled vehicles offer a higher rate of fuel efficiency when compared to gasoline operated vehicles by about 20 to 40 percent. And while a diesel truck costs more, in the end the consumer saves more when gassing up. Some companies, such Columbia Credit Union in Washington, are offering “green” auto loans for customers who purchase “environmentally gentle autos.” Incentives such as these encourage potential truck-owners to go green. And of course higher fuel efficiency is a greener alternative.
Even places like FED USA Insurance out of Florida is doing its part when providing tow truck insurance by offering digitized monthly statements and policy requests. Which means, as their website states, “You never have to see a shred of paper from us again.”
Captain Planet would be proud.
About the Author: Carol Montrose is a freelance writer and part time student at California State University Northridge. In her free times she reads, runs, and works with an animal rescue in Los Angeles.