About the author

Stuart Silverstein is assistant editor at FairWarning.

2 comments to “Unicorns, the Tooth Fairy, and 54.5 MPG”

  1. Doug Baldwin

    Nice job, Stuart, about as good of an overview of this situation as can be imagined, and it seems respectfully balanced among the varying sides as well. Everything you’d want to know all in one piece. Still, as an old timer, I am genially prejudiced towards thinking remarkable, even magic, progress is being made. My wife and I just bought a new car that features an engine that stops whenever the car motion stops, and then starts up again when you take the foot off the brake — all in order to improve gas mileage. We both remember all the old clunkers we owned in our long lives and how they would stall for real, and the cold sweat that caused. My VW bug once stalled on the Oakland Bay Bridge just after midnight on New Year’s Eve. I was sure I would be rammed and killed any second. My wife gets so freaked out by the engine stopping in the middle of an intersection as we wait to turn left she wants me to drive our new car with the feature off. I protest I am not going to drive my modern new car in an unmodern old way and unsocially conscious way. Our boys listen to this argument and to them we sound like the Beverly Hillbillies or Ma and Pa Kettle. And never mind electric cars and hybrids.

  2. Matthew Mabey

    While this article is a nice tutorial on the CAFE system, is any of this information really news to anyone? I would hope that anyone over 30, that cares about such issues, already knew all of this. The virtue of continuing to use the two original tests is that it gives a nice, consistent reference frame for how cars are doing over time. Consumer information should be “dumbed down” because to do otherwise is guaranteed to cause confusion. The original window stickers were a perfect case study in that. If one drove with a light foot, on level roads, in warm weather, without air conditioning, then one could achieve those numbers. With the current adjustments, it is easy to exceed the numbers on the windows by driving very deliberately. The adjusted numbers are very good for consumers, but they are of no use for comparing car from the 1970s to a car from 2015.
    The one good question is whether or not the greenhouse gas issue should have ever been mixed with the other pollutants. While greenhouse gasses are a legitimate concern, CO2 is not a pollutant in the usual sense of the word.

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