This afternoon, as I was walking to my car in Downtown Toronto, I walked in front of an old Dodge Caravan waiting to pull out of a parking lot. At that moment, I had the oddest flashback to my childhood, growing up in Bramalea in the 80’s.
I continued walking past the driveway, and the engine of the old, rusted minivan sputtered down the road and around the corner, spewing out a black cloud of exhaust fumes. The smell of acrid smoke, burnt oil and only half-burnt gasoline hung in the air, and you could still hear the rumbling untuned engine as it continued out of sight.
I realized what triggered the association in my mind back to the 80’s. It was certainly not the sight of the minivan; the first minivans didn’t come around until 1990. Rather, it was the smell. Back then, most engines were inefficient, and spewed half-used fuel and oil into the air. It was commonplace to top up your oil as you filled the fuel tank. Most cars didn’t have catalytic converters and used leaded fuel. 30 of these older vehicles pollute as much as a single car produced in 2007.
I climbed into my Hybrid and crawled up the Don Valley Parkway, mostly at low speeds in electric-only mode, thinking that we have really come a long way. Yes we have a long way to go to reduce pollution, stop emitting carbon into the atmosphere, and try to minimize the damage of global warming, but we have certainly moved forward from those days of old.
Let’s continue to push industry, automakers and politicians to continue this work for the next 25 years as we individuals also do our part.
And if you know the guy with the minivan, tell him to get it off the road!