An Infantile Polity

Evidently, this isn’t satire, or a hoax:

Some truck enthusiasts are intentionally producing copious amounts of diesel exhaust, spewing black smoke into the air as a form of political protest. It’s called “rolling coal.” Vocativ covered the subculture in an article last month, reporting “coal rollers” can spend thousands of dollars altering their rides to produce ever greater amounts of smoke.

This costly display of political spleen is evidently intended to display the driver’s disdain for “elitist pinko” concerns about clean air and climate change. Of course, what it really displays is the intellectual age of the vehicle’s owner.

It reminds me of an old Calvin and Hobbes cartoon. It’s a beautiful day, and Calvin’s father insists that he go out and play. In the last frame, Calvin is telling his stuffed tiger, Hobbes, “I’ll show him! I won’t have fun!”

What was the old adage about cutting off your nose to spite your face?

Breathe deeply of that air you are fouling, protestors……


  1. They are obviously unreachable, unteachable and unimpeachable; let’s add stupidity to this mix. Wouldn’t those vast amounts of black smoke require larger amounts of expensive diesel fuel to produce? Aren’t they spending more money to fill their tanks, only to spew their “rolling coal” into the air to irritate those of us who are concerned about Climate Change and Global Warming and are obviously helpless to remedy? This situation might hurt me to my quick – if I knew what my quick is – but it only points out their lack of common sense and inability to add up their monthly fuel bills…passing this cost on to consumers. Is it the drivers themselves or the company owners who are responsible? Can this be a situation that falls under EPA jurisdiction? Is anyone responsible or is this like the older, smoking cars I see on city streets and driving behind smelly Indy Go buses? It appears that no one is responsible for any of the issues we deal with 24/7 which produces hazardous pollution in air, water, food, drink, clothing, home furnishings, and on and on ad nauseum.

  2. The EPA recently opined that “rolling coal” does, in fact, violate existing regulations. The enforcement will be against the companies that make products specifically to support this “hobby.” (Yes, there are companies that do that.) From EPA’s website (

    Defeat devices. It is a violation of the CAA to manufacture, sell, or install a part for a motor vehicle that bypasses, defeats, or renders inoperative any emission control device. For example, computer software that alters diesel fuel injection timing is a defeat device. Defeat devices, which are often sold to enhance engine performance, work by disabling a vehicle’s emission controls, causing air pollution. As a result of EPA enforcement, some of the largest manufacturers of defeat devices have agreed to pay penalties and stop the sale of defeat devices.


    Tampering. The CAA prohibits anyone from tampering with an emission control device on a motor vehicle by removing it or making it inoperable prior to or after the sale or delivery to the buyer. A vehicle’s emission control system is designed to limit emissions of harmful pollutants from vehicles or engines. EPA works with manufacturers to ensure that they design their components with tamper-proofing, addresses trade groups to educate mechanics about the importance of maintaining the emission control systems, and prosecutes cases where significant or imminent harm is occurring.

    Liz Purchia, Press Secretary for the EPA, responded to a press inquiry and said it was illegal, based upon these two paragraphs.

    From Talking Points Memo –

  3. Generally the black exhaust from diesels is particulate carbon which is not a greenhouse gas. So add to the long list of stupid, that they are showing off how much they don’t know.

    I’m still of the opinion that the ignorant people of the country aren’t more numerous nor dumber, they’re just better organized. They have unions now, like the NRA.

    The common affliction that renders them susceptible, as well as a valuable resource, is that they’re easily led, even gullible.

    Paradoxically, their hot button, so useful for herding them, is freedom. They love their freedom, just not our freedom. And they believe the two can be disconnected.

    That’s why they must have a polarized world. Black and white, armed and disarmed, rich and poor, homo and hetero, strong men and weak women, educationally deprived, benevolently called those with “common” sense, vs intellectually elite. By rooting for the right team to beat the competition, they can be winners at the expense of others.

    Where will it end up? Democracy assumes that the majority will vote for, and capitalism assumes that the majority will buy from and invest in, the greater good. That’s never been tested against modern mass media marketing capabilities, so we shall see.

    We shall see.

  4. All: I have unearthed my little button which I will soon be wearing as I go about my daily business. Pete’s excellent comment today (and the comments of others, too) reminded me of the button. I think I saw Nancy Wilson of the rock group “Heart” wearing one on a cable news show a few years ago, and I knew that Amazon or some site would have it. I had to have the button! It’s right here beside me as I type.

    The button says: “Never Underestimate the Power of Stupid People in Large Groups”

    Get your buttons now, kiddies . . .it’s headed our way!

  5. Your blog entry today brought two memories vividly to mind.

    Long before I ever heard the words ‘pollution’ or ‘environmentalism’, my mother would vocally complain about any motorist ahead of us spewing visible, smelly exhaust. We were common country folks, but mom said such exhaust meant people didn’t take care of their cars, were negligent, were being inconsiderate to those behind them, and were making their lack of proper vehicular maintenance embarrassment painfully visible for everyone else to see.

    AND, from K-12, I had a classmate with asthma. In the days long before inhalers, his attacks made it frighteningly apparent that he couldn’t get his breath. Teachers could do little but try to calm him. We all suffered with him. He made it to adulthood, though now I wonder how – perhaps because he lived in the country where the air was very clear though filled with the ‘pollen’ of orchards, gardens, growing crops and livestock.

    In adulthood, I’m my mother’s daughter whenever I see smoke, smog, and visible or smelly exhaust. I’m also still the classmate of an asthmatic student. The coal rollers should walk a day in his shoes, not knowing if the next breath of air will generate an attack that will be his last.

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