Hey Mr. Green,
Car manufacturers omit ashtrays from new vehicles, perhaps as a way to discourage smoking. This can have a negative effect on the environment. Thousands of smokers who once snuffed out their butts in ashtrays now toss them out windows, littering streets and highways. In drought-impacted areas of the West it's a risk for forest fires. Auto makers should start installing ash trays again to spare us the littered butts and save the forests from being torched. –-Debra, in Tempe, Arizona
I have not found a sociological study indicating that more butts are being flipped out of car windows since auto makers stopped installing ash trays, nor does there appear to be a correlation between the staggering total of 650,000 human-caused wildfires in the past decade and the gradual disappearance of onboard butt-disposal systems. So I suspect that the idiots who flipped their butts out their windows when their cars had ashtrays are still seeding highways and biways with toxic sparks, while the more mild-mannered tobacco addicts improvise ash trays, or buy those butt boxes that slip into cup holders, or simply refrain from smoking while driving.
Since 2001 anthropogenic wildfires have hit 23 million acres, an area almost the size of Indiana, according the National Interagency Fire Center, which tracks these conflagrations. (“Anthropogenic conflagrations”—oh what fun it is to deploy such euphonious Greek-and-Latin derivatives! "A gush of euphony voluminously swells," as Edgar Alan Poe wrote, possibly under the influence of carbon monoxide from burning gaslights.)
I hasten to add that not all wildfires are bad. In fact, some habitats have adapted to fire,and benefit from a healthy burn. Some plants even need fires for their seeds to germinate, and excessive suppression of fire is not good for the woods, and some ecosystems co-evolved with lighting, which was ripping away zillions of years before we humans even figured out how to start a fire, let alone suck smoldering tobacco into our lungs. In fact, there are more wildfires caused by lightning—about 4 million acres a year--than by feckless humans. But ssshhh! I’m not sure I want some people to know this, because they'd use it as a excuse to keep flipping cigarettes from their car, or engaging in other high-risk flame-throwing activities. After all, you’ve got your closet pyromaniacs who claim that global warming is no big deal because the world was warmer back in the Cretaceous Period 70 million years ago, and therefore wanton fossil fuel combustion is nothing to worry about.