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The Mayor's New Car Has No Clothes

Press release:

The mayor's new car has no clothes

Palmerston North Mayor Heather Tanguay's new (City Council) $40,000 hybrid car is probably the envy of readers uneasy about petrol prices. (Manawatu Evening Standard, 5 Nov).

The headline says she has chosen an "energy efficient car" and that she "has shown her green side" (It has an electrical system that recovers and stores energy during braking and downhill driving.)

Yes, Heather has an outstanding track record of valiant work for environmental/human sustainability.

But how 'green' are hybrid cars really?

- Although it's exhaust might reduce nearby coughing by 90%, doesn't it still exhaust much the same CO2, causing global warming, icecap melting and sea-level-rise refugees?

- Although maybe 25% more efficient than ordinary cars, doesn't it still run on now dwindling petroleum that has no adequate substitutes in sight?

- Does this hybrid car run on normal roads made of asphalt (also derived from petroleum)?

- Don't its tyres (normal synthetic rubber) still require about 7 gallons of crude oil to produce?

- Because of the extra efficiency, how much 'more' might it actually be driven (defeating the purpose)?

- What about mayor Peter Trent of Westmount, Montreal, who chose not to have a mayoral car, walking or using the occasional taxi or public transport?

- Doesn't this car reinforce the popular belief that individual use of cars is still to be admired, in this flat but four-cars-per-driveway student town?

Bruce Thomson


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