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7 Ways to Take Action on Idling

7 Ways to Take Action on Idling

In the U.S., nearly 4 million gallons of fuel (enough to fill five Olympic-size swimming pools!) is wasted every day as a result of vehicle idling. All this unnecessary idling pollutes our communities, wastes money and contributes to our reliance on foreign oil.

But most people don’t mean to be so wasteful—they just don’t really even think about it. Or, they may be following the outdated notion that restarting your car wastes more gas than letting it run for a few minutes. Once you point out the facts to someone, they’re usually more than willing to change their behavior. With that in mind, we’ve put together some steps you can take to raise awareness about this important issue. Help us make turning off your engine rather than idling as commonplace as wearing your seat belt!

1. Take the “I Turn It Off” Pledge

“I pledge to idle for no longer than 10 seconds when I’m not in traffic.”

Visit iturnitoff.com to join the growing number of individuals and organizations committed to “Turning It Off.” Turning off your engine when idling for more than 10 seconds when not in traffic is the easiest way for you to get involved and make a difference. Once you get into the habit it will become second nature. You’ll save gas and cash, you’ll lengthen the life of your engine, and you’ll contribute to a cleaner, healthier planet.

2. Learn More

Extensive information about anti-idling is available online. Visit our I Turn It Off Campaign website to get started. Read inspiring stories on our blog about what others are doing to tackle unnecessary idling in their communities.

3. Spread the Word

Share what you’ve learned about vehicle idling by asking your friends, family, classmates and colleagues to take the pledge and join you in making a difference. Order an I Turn It Off bumper sticker for your car. Consider writing an editorial in your local newspaper. Share the facts on social media with these Facebook and Twitter updates:

Did you know that 10 seconds of #idling wastes more fuel than restarting your engine? Learn more and take the pledge to stop idling.

Find out how much money you can save by cutting down on #idling.

4. Start a Campaign in Your Community

Launch an I Turn It Off anti-idling campaign in your city or town, at your school, work, or place of worship, and encourage others to get on board for a safer and healthier community for all! Download posters, postcards and flyers in our idling toolkit at iturnitoff.com.

5. Organize a Screening of IdleThreat: Man on Emissions

Idle Threat: Man on Emissions is the story of George Pakenham, a New Yorker who got fed up with people idling in his neighborhood. He took action by asking them to stop and advocating for anti-idling enforcement in New York. Watching this entertaining film is a powerful learning experience and can be a great springboard for collective discussion and action. The film can be purchased for community screenings of varying sizes through The Video Project.

6. Engage with Local Government

Begin by researching anti-idling laws, ordinances and policies in your town, city and/or state. If these are in place, are they being enforced? Are there opportunities that you see for improvement? Develop a set of recommendations and identify the appropriate person(s) to meet with in your community. Identify potential allies such as like-minded local environmental or health organizations.

7. Tell Your Legislators That Idling Is an Important Issue

Currently, 28 states have anti-idling laws in place. While this is a great start, all states should have laws against this harmful practice. A national law would likely be best, as inconsistency in rules makes compliance difficult for drivers, particularly long-distance drivers like truckers. Also, in recent years several car manufacturers have started offering automatic start-stop anti-idling technology in their vehicles as an add-on. Like higher MPG legislation, this technology could be mandated, which would significantly cut down on unnecessary idling times.

BONUS! If you’re passionate about this issue, please donate to help us raise even more awareness about vehicle idling. Your donation will help support efforts like our new Idle-Free Fleet program, which educates and trains universities, municipalities and businesses about how to reduce idling in their vehicle fleets.

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An illustration depicts the extinct woolly rhino. Heinrich Harder / Wikimedia Commons

The last Ice Age eliminated some giant mammals, like the woolly rhino. Conventional thinking initially attributed their extinction to hunting. While overhunting may have contributed, a new study pinpointed a different reason for the woolly rhinos' extinction: climate change.

The last of the woolly rhinos went extinct in Siberia nearly 14,000 years ago, just when the Earth's climate began changing from its frozen conditions to something warmer, wetter and less favorable to the large land mammal. DNA tests conducted by scientists on 14 well-preserved rhinos point to rapid warming as the culprit, CNN reported.

"Humans are well known to alter their environment and so the assumption is that if it was a large animal it would have been useful to people as food and that must have caused its demise," says Edana Lord, a graduate student at the Center for Paleogenetics in Stockholm, Sweden, and co-first author of the paper, Smithsonian Magazine reported. "But our findings highlight the role of rapid climate change in the woolly rhino's extinction."

The study, published in Current Biology, notes that the rhino population stayed fairly consistent for tens of thousands of years until 18,500 years ago. That means that people and rhinos lived together in Northern Siberia for roughly 13,000 years before rhinos went extinct, Science News reported.

The findings are an ominous harbinger for large species during the current climate crisis. As EcoWatch reported, nearly 1,000 species are expected to go extinct within the next 100 years due to their inability to adapt to a rapidly changing climate. Tigers, eagles and rhinos are especially vulnerable.

The difference between now and the phenomenon 14,000 years ago is that human activity is directly responsible for the current climate crisis.

To figure out the cause of the woolly rhinos' extinction, scientists examined DNA from different rhinos across Siberia. The tissue, bone and hair samples allowed them to deduce the population size and diversity for tens of thousands of years prior to extinction, CNN reported.

Researchers spent years exploring the Siberian permafrost to find enough samples. Then they had to look for pristine genetic material, Smithsonian Magazine reported.

It turns out the wooly rhinos actually thrived as they lived alongside humans.

"It was initially thought that humans appeared in northeastern Siberia fourteen or fifteen thousand years ago, around when the woolly rhinoceros went extinct. But recently, there have been several discoveries of much older human occupation sites, the most famous of which is around thirty thousand years old," senior author Love Dalén, a professor of evolutionary genetics at the Center for Paleogenetics, said in a press release.

"This paper shows that woolly rhino coexisted with people for millennia without any significant impact on their population," Grant Zazula, a paleontologist for Canada's Yukon territory and Simon Fraser University who was not involved in the research, told Smithsonian Magazine. "Then all of a sudden the climate changed and they went extinct."

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"We really need to think about … connecting climate and energy with other issues that people wake up every day really worried about," she says, "whether it be jobs, housing, transportation, health and well-being."

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