California Air Resources Board & Cool Glass

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is about to pass legislation intended to reduce heat in automobiles by requiring automakers to use metallic reflective window glazing on “rigid windows.”  Curiosity naturally prompts one to wonder why legislators in California are desirous of the hot air in their constituents’ cars when a great amount of it already blows through the halls of the capitol building.  The answer, global warming, comes as no surprise to those familiar with the priorities of California’s state politicians.  Californians should be wary of temptation to dismiss the issue of glass glazing as unimportant – we should also think well about what isn’t being questioned.

Proponents of the legislation believe it straightforward and sensible.  The goal is to keep cars cooler by making windows more resistant to heat.  If a car is cool inside, drivers will be less likely to use air conditioning.  If drivers use less air conditioning, then they use less gasoline.  Since 9.5 percent of America’s imported crude oil is used to produce the 7 billion gallons of fuel per year consumed by light-duty vehicle air conditioning, there is great potential for saving gasoline.  Apply the law of large numbers to gasoline saved due to less air conditioning use and viola – according to the CARB, Californians will be able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 1 million metric tons by 2012, the date the legislation will be fully implemented.  However, even if one doesn’t buy into the assumption that society can end global warming, proponents do not understand why anyone would object to keeping one’s car cooler.  After all, who honestly enjoys the hot air blast that greets a driver when he first opens his car door after having left his vehicle sit for a day in a parking lot under the hot sun?

Critics of the legislation certainly do not enjoy hot air blasts, especially when it takes the form of arguments made by proponents that distract voters from the potentially life threatening problems wrought by this legislation.  Metallic reflective window glazing, critics argue, blocks radio waves such as those used by garage door openers, cell phones, GPS devices, laptops, and parolee ankle bracelets.  Clearly this is problematic: imagine being trapped in a car after an accident and not having a cell signal because the windows prevented signal penetration.  In addition, by undermining the ability of GPS devices to function properly, the CARB would be trading a greater good for a lesser good.  According to one study, by virtue of providing drivers with shorter routes and preventing them from getting lost, GPS devices reduced carbon emissions by 24%, ten times the total emissions cut expected by the CARB as a result of their legislation.

Interestingly, the CARB both confirms and denies radio wave blockage.  According to a CARB frequently asked questions sheet, they conducted a small study in the Southern California Area to determine if GPS devices and cell phones still functioned properly.  No details are given about the study, but apparently GPS parolee ankle bracelets as well as cell phones were entirely unaffected by the glazing.  On the other hand, signals for after market GPS devices, FastTrak devices (used to bill drivers who drive on California’s carpool lanes alone) and garage door openers were prevented from penetrating the windows; therefore, drivers would need to point these devices through special “deletion windows.”  Perhaps the world’s leading GPS manufactures should consult with the Department of Corrections to study the advanced technology used in ankle bracelets.

Clearly, if there is good reason to believe that people’s lives will be endangered as a result of window glazing, the members of the CARB should reorder their priorities.  However, like I said concerning the healthcare debate, I’m concerned by the questions not being raised.  First, who elevated “global warming” to such a degree of importance that the need to prevent it takes precedence over our desire to support a free market?  What are their names and how much control over me and the things I buy do they believe they must have in order to solve the global warming problem?  Second, if cooler cars via window glazing are such a no-brainer, then why must it be legislated?  If there is an obvious market demand, then why must the government grow itself vis-à-vis legislation and oversight, in order to meet the need?  Why must we be less free in order to attain a good we’d otherwise have attained naturally and freely?  Finally, why is this something state legislators have chosen to care about?  My heart is burdened by the problems facing my home state: an unnecessary and artificially created drought in central California killing jobs and produce, the highest taxes on business in the nation, a jobless rate over 12%, schools that are understaffed and overburdened with union demands, and the list goes on.

Are cooler cars a good idea?  Yes, and California is full of smart, creative, designers and engineers empowered by the free market to create the products and technology to cool our cars.  When they do, I’ll be the first in line to make a purchase.  However, the CARB’s current legislation is facing critiques that, if valid, pose real danger to the best interest of Californians.  The critiques ought to be taken seriously, the legislation defeated, and state legislators ought to focus on solving the serious problems they already have, such as high taxes, education, etc., instead of expanding government in order to address problems the free market is better equipped and designed to solve.

*Image courtesy Image Shack.

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Dustin R. Steeve

Dustin Steeve is a blogger and web enthusiast. Dustin's passion is to see his generation of Christians rise up as thought leaders, doing remarkable, good work Christianly. Dustin is interested in the rise of web media and increasingly prominent use of computer technology as a tool to aid people. Dustin worked for three years as the director of GodblogCon and is an adviser for the Christian Web Conference. Dustin graduated summa cum laude and received his B.A. in History from Biola University where he also graduated from Torrey Honors Institute. Dustin has completed some post-graduate work at the Stanford Graduate School of Business where he was appointed to the Dean's List and received a certificate of completion from the Summer Institute for General Management.

  • True Tech Air Conditioning Service OKC

    California Air Resources Board & Cool Glass. I think its good to the house or building that we can relax anytime.

  • Rong

    One question that may not have been raised yet is the additional energy usage and pollution created in the manufacturing processes involved in the creation of this glass?

    Not an opinion, just a question….

  • Rachel Motte

    Rong has a good point. Anyone have any numbers on the costs to manufacture and ship the new kind of glass?

  • Dustin R. Steeve


    Good question. I’m not aware of any research on the subject though I’ve not looked too closely in that direction. Since this post was published, the CARB passed the mandate. Also since this post was published, a hacker exposed the work of prominent UN climatologists as being filled with misleading data supported by inflated measurements – it seems that “science” doesn’t speak about global warming with the clarity and urgency liberals, of the sort that rammed this legislation through, would have us believe.