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Thread: Environment and the Westy

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    As with many Westy owners, I would guess, I am extremely concerned about the environment, and particularly CO2 from vehicle emissions. However, I also love travelling in my 84 Westy. I rationalize that at least it beats a big V8 RV. I suspect, however, that it does not beat a more modern V8 RV, and I know for a fact that it is far worse than a newer Vanagon.
    Does anyone know where I can see stats comparing vehicle emissions which would include 1980s Vanagons? And, while we are at it, what about my 82 Honda 450 motorcycle which I suspect out-pollutes my 2001 Toyota Echo?

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  3. #2
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    CO² is NOT one of the EPA regulated pollutants. In fact the courts have ruled EPA does not have any responsibility to regulate CO². It is a naturally occuring compound and global warming effect is not a pollution per se. CO² is an essential part of the carbon cycle and occurs in such diverse functions as animal respiration, plant photosynthesis and oceanic absorption. It is essential to life as we know it. Especially since it's the main component in the head on a beer -- we do have priorities.

    Some contribute CO² as a major component of global warming and then try to attribute 75% of CO² to the automobile. However scientific data refutes this. DOE pegs transporation generation of all manmade CO² at about 36%, about 20% lower than the the component from electrical generation. NOAA estimates that 97% of all CO² is naturally occuring -- volcanos, life cycle effect, peat fires. One must also consider the balance that, though CO² may increase the greenhouse effect, it also blocks harmful infared radiation.

    The CO² spike in the last 100 years may be a natural spike attenuated by population growth, deforestation and increased fossil fuel use. Over the last 400,000 years, we are in a peak that is a nearly identical recurrance of the 4 preceding. In fact, CO² has actually declined over the last couple million years in cycles that cover both ice-ages and global warming ages. The recent spike is of concern -- not so much in amount, but in growth rate. However spikes have historically occured just before major changes such as new ice ages or the reverse. We may be due for a new ice-age so dig out the long-johns & fix the heater in your Westy!

    Attempts to isolate CO² by automobile from all the other causes and effects is probably futile. CO² from the automobile is a proportional output of fuel consumed, i.e. mileage. You best contribution to that component is to drive conservatively and maintain your vehicle in a mileage orientated fashion. You could also quit breathing -- 2 lb. a day -- but I wouldn't recommend it.

    Sorry, but this site doesn't support vehicles other than the VW buses so isn't an appropriate place to discuss either global warming or other vehicles contributions beyond controling the proper function of the VW's. CO² reduction just happens to be a nice side effect of good driving habits and keeping your Westy properly tuned and in good condition. In fact measuring CO² in exhaust gas is an indicator for proper fuel:air mixture adjustment.

    See also "LPG & other fuel conversions" topic in ENGINE CONVERSIONS forum.

  4. #3
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    Since the subject is environment, a pet peeve of mine is to see a Westy owner dumping his gray water to ground. How to avoid it (portable gray water tanks) is covered in other forums but it is just plain inconsiderate, never mind any pollution, harm/attraction to animals, or enivronmental harm.

    The Westy, especially older ones, didn't have a convenient drain system and the location made piping to a gray water tank difficult, but not enough to be an excuse not to. There are adaptors to the drain fitting of the older large outlets down to ¾" std. fittings. Portable &/or collasable gray water tanks and plentiful and inexpensive. They dump easily into any toilet or RV dump. In Vanagons, it is very easy to install a higher dump fitting for better gravity flow.

    It is a violation of federal law to dump gray water in any federal property. Fines and immediate expultion from the park are not just possible, I think should be vigorously enforced. Many states have even tougher standards -- if memory serves me, it was a $100 fine in Washington state 5 years ago..

    We often camp in remote locations that don't have standard camp sites or facilities -- relying on our Porti-Potti and collapsing gray water tanks. We have learned it's not a major burden to just stop at the next bathroom down the road & dump our portable tank.

    Nothing offends a camper more than stepping into someone's left over grease or goo and tracking it into their camper. Be a considerate member of Westyville -- USE a gray water tank! See the "Gray water tank & handling" topic in the SINK & WATER SYSTEM forum.

  5. #4
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    The US Supreme Court has ruled, in effect overturning previous lower court decisions, that the EPA does have the authority to regulate emissions that generate greenhouse effect, primarily CO². The ruling is very narrow back-door, basically allowing CA to enact its own emission standards on CO². The side effect is that EPA will now be under pressure to regulate them on a national basis to uniform standards or face the quagmire of many states having separate standards.

    Paradoxally, the EPA won a very similar suite that demanded it had the authority to control greenhouse gas emissions of the power industry, which is the primary man-made contributor. Neither has any effect on the global sources and worst polluters such as China.

    Now having the authority does not mean EPA will suddently change regulations. It may free other states to enact their own, but any federal changes must come through Congress. It will likely cause some market problems such as the 49-state vs. CA models of the past and registering 'out-of-state' cars in affected states. Such regulation is always from stated year of manufacture forward. Since VW has announced they are getting out of the Van business (I sure don't consider a rebadged Dodge a VW!) and their are no N.A. campers since 2003, this site's interest will remain confined to its effect on our current vehicles.

  6. #5
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    I have to say that environmental issues are important to me, and running a 22 mpg (imperial)T2 with antique emissions controls does not make me comfortable.

    OTOH I love my 1979 Westy and use it for about 4000 miles per year. If it was possible to upgrade the engine to modern standards and get sensible mileage this would ease my conscience a little.

  7. #6
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    Mass
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    For it's size, the Westy is actually pretty good as far as mileage is concerned. And like an earlier post, I have a smaller fuel efficient car that I commute in (I hope to buy a hybrid, or the chevy volt in the near future). Global warming is happening, and we are contributing to it. I don't feel too guilty driving the Westy a few thousand miles a year. I use far less gas than the average person. Who knows, in the future it might be possible to convert the Westy to an electric motor

  8. #7
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    For those of you who are interested in the environment and alternative fuel, you might enjoy this. A Vanagon was converted to an electric vehicle.
    http://www.renewables.com/ElectricVanConv.htm

  9. #8
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    The Tax Man Commeth . . .

    The Charlotte Observer in NC ran an article on June 11th that a man who had converted his diesel (MBenz) to run on vegetable oil was fined by the state government $1,000 for 'not paying motor fuel tax.' He was also expecting another $1,000 fine from the Federal government, as well. Apparently, the state requires a $2,500 bond to use bio-fuel not sold via commercial tax-paid pumps. How they then collect the appropriate taxes wasn't mentioned. This is more ironic because the man was already paying about 30% more for vegetable oil than pump diesel.

    He was caught by revenue officials going through the parking lots at a NASCAR race checking for illegal fuels in RVs. (Off road diesel is available without highway taxes for construction, stationary and farm use at about 50¢ per gallon less tax. It also doesn't meet EPA specs and could damage the late model car/truck diesels.)

    Others have been similarly fined for using private and home-sourced ethenol. Part of the stink, and legitimitly so, is that those vehicles do not pay their share of road use tax but consume road services the same as any other. (Road use and pollution costs are independent items.) As overall mileage improves, there is already a shortfall of highway fuel taxes for road construction & maintenance, which puts pressure on for raising taxes & toll roads. Ain't no free lunch!

    The article also wonders if they will now fine NC State Senator Stan Bingham for using vegetable oil in his VW.

    Apparently running 'green' stickers about being "Powered by vegetable oil" or
    "Goodbye OPEC" attract the revenuers.

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