It is the Euro 2008 soccer championships and this city is going nuts. Every second car on the street is festooned with little flags; perhaps they shouldn't be. Engineers are quoted in the Guardian as saying that that the flags, which are usually attached to window frames, cause wind resistance, which alters a car's aerodynamics and causes it to burn more fuel.
The Austrian car club says "attaching two flags to a car leads to an increased petrol consumption of "up to half a litre a kilometre on motorways and rural stretches".
The Germans accuse the Austrians of being spoilsports. "As Austria has no chance of victory, it would appear they're trying to make this into a problem for Germany. The eco party poopers have managed to declare even football a climate-killer ... there are no sacred cows any more when it comes to the climate debate."
In this case, the Germans might have a point. Half a litre per kilometer is about a 5% hit on fuel efficiency; can a couple of dinky flags do that?
UPDATE: no, I am off in my decimal points. it is a 500% hit on fuel efficiency. Something isn't right at the Austrian Car Club. UPDATE: a German reader informs us that the original article claimed "Auf Überlandfahrten oder auf der Autobahn können die Fan-Mobile ungefähr einen halben Liter mehr Kraftstoff auf 100 Kilometer verbrauchen." or half a liter per 100 kilometers, or a 5% hit on performance. ::Guardian