Digital Diatribes

A presentation of data on climate and other stuff

Giving Thanks for my 15 MPG (on a good day) F150 4-Wheel Drive

Posted by The Diatribe Guy on December 9, 2009

Well, they weren’t kidding with the winter weather projection here.

We’re being blasted…

The first major winter snowstorm of the season made life miserable throughout much of the Upper Midwest and the governor of Wisconsin has already declared a state of emergency.

As someone who lives in Central Wisconsin, the Governor’s declaration isn’t an exaggerated response. While we have had high-volume snowfalls aplenty in the last couple years, this is one of the worst overall blizzards I can remember. We’re at a foot or so and counting right now, with windy conditions that are playing havoc. Despite our generally swift ability to clear roads, the wind makes it impossible to keep up, and makes driving dangerous.

And so it is that I was thanking God for my Ford Climate-Changer this morning. I don’t need the 4-Wheel drive all that often, and more often than not the truck is not my vehicle of choice. But given my rural location relative to my place of employment, I only had one choice. As it turned out, even that was touch and go, as I traversed through a half-mile stretch of a side road that had not been plowed at all, with open fields on either side. This created a 2-foot-plus deep area that I honestly thought I would not pass through. Some other poor sap had actually tried to make it with a sedan. As I was calling him or her a fool, I realized that I may suffer the same fate despite my 4WD. But, fortunately, I made it through and on to work.

Why do I relay this? Well, it’s an interesting little anecdote relating to this weather, for one thing. But it highlights another thing that bugs me about this whole climate debate and the cars we drive. Some of us need to have certain vehicles on hand that are not what the talking heads call “green.” Granted, I don’t need this truck most of the time, and if I drove it every day I’d burn through more gasoline than I need to. I pay for that choice (which is why I don’t use it on a daily basis). But more often than not, the users of certain products are labeled as selfish consumers. Oh, sure, that can be true. But all this finds an equilibrium. Supply and demand and all that stuff. Eventually, those spending a lot more than they need to on vehicles and gasoline alike will feel the pinch and this self-corrects as long as we let the market work.


5 Responses to “Giving Thanks for my 15 MPG (on a good day) F150 4-Wheel Drive”

  1. Mark Baker said

    Hey Guy,

    You are right about people in snow country needing vehicles. I live in Marin county where we never get snow at sea level. There has to be a middle ground. I have a 4 wheel drive Ford Escape and it gets 25-30mph but there are lots of Suburbans around here with one person driving them to Safeway.


  2. Bob H. said

    Good Morning Joe,

    We didn’t get the snow, just the insane cold. I believe the “official” low temperature yesterday was -6, although where we live the temperature was -16.

    On another topic the Ap Index is still in the toilet, even though sunspot activity and solar flux has picked up a bit. I’m guessing cycle 24 isn’t going to get started for a while. I was wondering, if we have low solar activity and an el nino at the same time, does that mean it’s really cold and we get blasted with snow? Hmm.

  3. The Diatribe Guy said

    #1 – I limit my use of the F150 because of the low MPG. Also, I never buy new vehicles – too expensive for my taste.

    There are a LOT of underlying issues to wasteful lifestyles. The old dual-income-no-kids is emblematic of the drive twoards the material that increases demand and makes cost of living more expensive for those tying to live a traditional lifestyle.

    But what do we do? We can either legislate all sorts of requirements and regulation and trust that the legislators will legislate morality perfectly, or we can let the market figure it out. The market isn’t perfect. It often takes time for people to learn the lessons of spending foolishly and wastefully, but eventually these things will correct. The alternative is trying to somehow regulate or impose costs to those evil Suburban-driving jerks who don’t need to be driving them. At an emotional, and even a moral level, many of us can convince ourselves that this is fine. But this attitude can quickly come back to haunt us when someone decides that some behavior or another of ours – like breathing – is a problem.

    There may not be a perfect solution, which is why I submit that we err on the side of liberty and try to find reasonable ways to inform, educate, and try to encourage lifestyles of living within means.

    As an aside, as you know I have 7 kids and another on the way. My “carbon footprint” is generationally huge, I guess. But I have observed over the years that our consumption habits leave a much smaller overall footprint than most of the people I know with today’s standard of two incomes and two kids. We don’t overspend, we grow a lot of our own food, we live in a nice, but overall modest home, and we buy used vehicles. (Granted, we need a 12-passenger van for traveling together).

    Small families I know have larger homes with two furnaces and air conditioners, the Suburbans you speak of, and fly around on family vacations to Disney more often than we can. We stick mostly to camping, and our last vacation was a driving one.

    It may well be that one of the better ways to make better use of our resources is to have larger families. Throw that one out to the environmentalists and watch their heads explode.

  4. The Diatribe Guy said

    #2 – I saw the Ap index on Watts recently. This whole sun thing is really, really interesting. Cycle 24 may be getting underway, but the question is what the magnitude and length will be. If it does a major fizzle at maximum, we’re seriously looking at a period of time similar to Maunder. This is conjecture at this point, but I think the Ap index has a lot of people scratching their heads, and really not sure what it means.

    Who knows, maybe it doesn’t really mean anything. Somehow, I doubt that, but I’m not sure anyone really knows exactly what it does mean, and to what level it will impact the climate. And at what lag?

    Interesting times. Unfortunately, I don’t like cold weather, and if “interesting” means a trend towards colder temperatures like all the cyclical analyses suggest, then I’d rather have boring times to live in.

  5. docattheautopsy said

    Hey Joe. We got some snow here, too. But it didn’t seem nearly as bad as the ice storms last year.

    And I made a video using two ice core data sets posted on WUWT, and it’s gone crazy. Hope you get some traffic!

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