Opinion: No place for muscle cars when the world is warming

There it is, pictured right on the editorial page of the Addy Indy June 29 issue: a 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, replete with air intakes all over the hood, being “tested” at the recent Mopar Magic event at Foster Motors. The ultimate in muscle cars. Sexy. Alluring to young men and not so young men. Why, it’s 1970 all over again.
On the website promoting this vehicle shown in a fog of burning rubber and exhaust smoke, it states: “707 horsepower, end of discussion.” No — beginning of discussion. This is not 1970 anymore. In the true muscle car era (and I plead guilty to having owned one at the time), we were only beginning to learn of the health and environmental impact of vehicle exhaust emissions. And climate change was an unknown.
Forty-five years later, we know what happens when exhaust chemicals such as benzene, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide enter our lungs and bloodstream. They can cause cancer over time, exacerbate heart conditions and exacerbate or cause respiratory illnesses like asthma. We now know the environmental impact of how the fuel for internal combustion vehicles is delivered to us — more and more it’s fracked extractions of dirty tar sands oil, and where they go once consumed — carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that is causing climate change. Fueleconomy.gov rates the Hellcat’s Energy Impact Score at 20.6 barrels of oil per year and for greenhouse gas emissions, 556 grams of CO2 emitted per mile — one of the most energy-wasting, polluting new cars made.
A few weeks ago, an Independent letter writer ticked off reasons he was “tired of people telling me what to do.” Well, I’m tired of the greed of automakers and automotive aftermarket suppliers that push an insidious “performance” car culture on people, appealing to their egos and hormones, at the expense of everyone else’s health and the environment, like it’s still 1970.
Actually, if you want to possess an insanely fast car and be green, get the electric Tesla Model S P85D. Beats that 707 horsepower Hellcat in g-force AND quarter-mile acceleration. Oh — and no exhaust emissions. End of discussion.
Wayne Michaud

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