Where the Rubber Meets the Road

I have been meditating about tires and rubber.

According to this magazine, in 2006 there were 1.3 billion tires purchased.

A tire is typically discarded when the tread depth falls from 10/32 in to 2/32 in. That is a loss of 8/32 in or 1/4 in of tire.

How much rubber is that?

Assume the average tire diameter is 24 in, and the average width is 7 in. That gives a circumference of 2*3.14*12 =75in. The surface area that suffers wear is 75*7=527in^2. So the volume of rubber worn off on a tire is 527/4 in^3=132in^3.

For all the tires used in one year, that is 171 billion in^3 of rubber “left behind”.

At .0043 gallons per cubic in, that is roughly three quarters of a billion gallons of rubber dust.

For comparison, a tanker truck holds between 5500 and 9000 gallons. So that is about 100,000 tanker trucks of rubber deposited on and near American roadways each year.

No, this isn’t an environmentalist rant. There are much bigger issues than tire dust. (Makes you think twice about living near a freeway, though, doesn’t it?) The point is, something we don’t even notice can be cumulatively so large.

Sin is like that. Every little sin we commit – the white lies, the gossip, the self-indulgence, viewing immoral entertainment – each of those sins contributes just a little bit of tire dust to the culture, and the culture becomes more and more coarse, more and more polluted.

It takes small individual efforts, repeated billions of times to clean up the environment. It takes small individual efforts repeated billions of times to clean up the culture. One good movie won’t do it. A petition won’t do it. A presidential candidate won’t do it. It takes us deciding each day, each minute: “I won’t sin, not this time. Not right now.”

And that’s where the rubber meets the road.

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