Has anyone noticed that Maine is full of idlers? No matter what the season or the reason, people seem propelled to sit in their driveways, dally in a beach parking lot, check their P.O. box or have a leisurely lunch in a Hannaford parking lot and leave their engines running.

We’re not talking five minutes; sometimes this goes on for hours. Whether it’s because of cheaper gas prices, or merely the legacy of Steve Jobs (RIP), people don’t seem to care about the pollution they are forcing upon innocent bystanders (and pets) or the long-term impact of their choices on the environment.

Recently, I counted 20 cars idling for at least 10 minutes at a popular local beach. If every one of those drivers had stopped their engines, they would have eliminated 20 pounds of carbon dioxide – a harmful greenhouse gas – from being released into the atmosphere that carloads of small children were breathing. This was just a 10-minute observation! Imagine the levels of carbon we are generating, as a state, just from our idling engines.

Idling is linked to increases in asthma, allergies, heart and lung disease and cancer. Kids are especially vulnerable because they inhale more air per pound of body weight, and lots of idling happens near schools, playing fields, beaches, grocery stores, etc.

These are tough times; a car can offer freedom, extra space or much-needed privacy. It doesn’t have to poison the planet, however. Just shut it off!

Heather Robinson
Scarborough

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