Look out, environmentalists. Some truck-driving conservatives have come up with a new plan to counteract your tree-hugging ways. Rather than heeding calls to reduce pollution, they’ve fixed up their vehicles with smoke stack-like devices that actually emit more exhaust than necessary… you know, just because. Take that, hippies!
Known as “rolling coal,” this increasingly popular pastime involves reconfiguring trucks so that their engines can be tricked into burning more fuel than usual. Unable to combust the additional fuel adequately, it exits the truck as thick black smoke which is rich in pollutants.
While rolling coal is not a new invention, its popularity has spiked by 700% in just the past three years. There are also over 150,000 shared videos and photos of people rolling coal on Instagram and Tumblr combined.
Below is a compilation of inconsiderate motorists releasing additional exhaust on passersby:
Often times, these coal-rolling vehicles are accompanied by a window decal that says something obnoxious like “Prius Repellent.” The idea is that if other people are going to dare to drive around fuel-efficient cars, then these coal rollers are going to defiantly pollute more to make up for their fellow motorists more eco-conscious ways.
People who roll coal consider it a form of political protest. The owner of a store that sells the additional exhaust stacks (retailing for between $500 and $5,000) told a reporter, “I run into a lot of people that really don’t like Obama at all. ‘If he’s into the environment, if he’s into this or that, we’re not.’ I hear a lot of that. ‘To get a single stack on my truck—that’s my way of giving them the finger. You want clean air and a tiny carbon footprint? Well, screw you.’”
If this all sounds petty and ridiculously stupid… well… I’m having trouble reaching a different conclusion as well. Emitting extra carbon doesn’t just hurt President Obama and liberals — it’s ultimately destructive to the entire country and planet. It’s one thing to say, “I don’t care about the environment and am not willing to change my wasteful ways” and another to say, “I’m going to go out of my way to specifically harm the planet more than I was already.”
Slate’s David Weigel reminds us that this antagonist mindset is hardly unprecedented in certain conservative circles. He points to previous counter-efforts where people were encouraged to waste more electricity during a “turn the lights off to conserve” environmental initiative, and to eat more doughnuts in conjunction with Michelle Obama’s call to eat healthier.
Former coal roller Sean Miller used to like the status symbol of having a high emissions truck, but ultimately gave it up to address his personal economic issues. “It’s just a testosterone thing. It’s manhood. It’s who can blow the most smoke, whose is blacker. The blacker it is, the more fuel you have in your injectors. It was kind of fun, but I’ll be honest with you. I decided I’d save some money. It’s like throwing dollar bills out the window.”
Unfortunately, the cost is not enough to deter many drivers, especially younger ones. Vocativ spoke to a teenaged coal roller, Ryan, and his response was pretty candid: “It’s bad for the environment – that’s definitely true. And some of the kids that have diesel trucks can look like tools. And you can cause a wreck, but everything else about it is pretty good.”
What that “everything else” is, exactly, isn’t clear, but it’s definitely disheartening to see a segment of the population intentionally polluting as much as possible just to be rebellious.
Photo credit: Thinkstock.