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The litter of car exhaust When it comes to climate change, think pink. Not too long ago, you could just throw your litter out the car window into…

The litter of car exhaust

When it comes to climate change, think pink.

Not too long ago, you could just throw your litter out the car window into the highway ditch and not feel terribly bad about it.

Everyone else did it. And, hey, it kept your car nice and clean.

Now, you simply don’t dump your trash out the car window.

You just don’t.

And if you do, people will think that you’re a jerk.

But what if we started to consider the exhaust that comes out the end of our tailpipe to be trash?

I mean in a lot of ways, car exhaust is worse.

Litter in the gutter is mostly a visual problem, occasionally causing problems for wildlife and water quality.

Vehicle exhaust, on the other hand, is full of toxic chemicals, is poisonous to breathe, causes an array of respiratory illnesses and, worst of all, contains carbon dioxide, the main culprit behind global warming, a problem that if left uncurbed could threaten all life on Earth.

Now we’re not about to call every single person who drives a vehicle a jerk, are we? Then we’d be a nation of jerks, and we all know that’s not true.

Picture this: one litre of gasoline burned in your car results in more than a kilogram of carbon dioxide waste coming out your tailpipe.

I know, it’s hard to visualize, as the exhaust that seeps out your vehicle is largely invisible.

It is hard to believe that every 10 kilometres you drive down the road, you are chucking a heavy wad of toxic garbage out of your automobile.

Picture this. Sitting on your lap while you drive are two bricks of butter, but unlike the savoury yellow goop we like to spread on toast and corn, this sludge is thick, black, and when you throw it out the window, it drifts up into the sky and traps the heat of the sun and causes the temperature of the Earth to rise.

And unlike pop cans and candy wrappers, this stuff doesn’t just sit there in the grass looking ugly.

This is the stuff that is threatening the Yukon as we know it.

Here, we’re already seeing serious problems like melting glaciers, new invasive species, melting permafrost, increased forest fires and beetle infestations among many other impacts and risks.

And it’s only predicted to get worse. Much, much worse.

The problem is not that we are stupid and irresponsible. But we don’t see the immediate damages that our actions cause.

We can’t see the atmospheric litter that our vehicles create.

That is why I propose that the government impose a mandatory fuel additive that colours our vehicle exhaust a tacky fluorescent pink.

Only then, when you idle for five minutes outside the public school, will people see you for the polluting schmuck that you are, as you and your car sit in an ever-growing hot-pink cumulus cloud of pollution.

Humans are primarily visual.

If dogs were driving the cars of the world, they would have solved this problem decades ago, unable to tolerate the toxic stench.

For now, until my proposed legislation is passed, I ask all of you to do my little visualization technique.

And beyond that, make smart choices about driving and energy use.

Like driving less, buying a fuel-efficient car, carpooling, keeping the engine tuned and tire pressure up.

Like demanding government to make and keep commitments to greenhouse gas reduction legislation.

Would you drive to work knowing that you were throwing a pail of black toxic sludge out the window and into the atmosphere?

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