Transportation and Climate Change: How to Move in the Right Direction

Most people are going to rely on some form of transportation to get from point A to point B in their daily lives. 

However, there is more and more evidence that this is affecting our climate. 

Those individuals that understand these effects are more willing to make changes in their own lives to help decrease the greenhouse gases that are released into the air.

For the United States, their transportation sector is responsible for nearly 30% of greenhouse gas emissions in 2014 (Source).

Transportation is one of the causes of man-made climate change

Here are the figures for greenhouse gas emissions in the United States by sector for 2017 (Source):

  • Transportation - 29%
  • Electricity - 28%
  • Industry - 22%
  • Agriculture - 9%
  • Commercial - 6%
  • Residential -  5%

Also, here are the figures for different types of transport in terms of greenhouse gas emissions in 2017 for the United States (Source):

  • Light-duty vehicles - 59%
  • Medium  - and heavy-duty trucks - 23%
  • Aircraft - 9%
  • Other - 4%
  • Rail - 2%
  • Ships and boats - 3%
EPA Transportation Statistics for 2017

In 2010, the transport sector contributed 23% of carbon dioxide emissions globally, which is approximately 6.7 gigatonnes. If you include other greenhouse gases, it is 7.0 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Source).

Adverse Effects

You may be interested in knowing that the industry of transportation will be releasing millions of tons of gases into the atmosphere daily. 

This will include lead, carbon monoxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and even ash and dust. 

Now that you have an idea of what is in the air that we are breathing, it will be a good idea also to know what this can do to your body. 

These different chemicals are associated with cancer, respiratory and even neurological diseases.

According to the World Health Organization, exposure to outdoor air pollution contributes to 4.2 million annual deaths worldwide. Unsurprisingly, people living in industrialized countries will disproportionately suffer this burden (Source).

On a side note, indoor air pollution is estimated to cause about 3.8 million premature deaths, mostly in developing countries (Source).

There are many different health effects on humans from pollution

Improving Transportation Efficiency

If you are considering making some changes to help decrease the emissions that are being released into the atmosphere, you need to improve the efficiency of your car.

Firstly, you could get a car that has a better fuel efficiency, that uses biofuel, or that uses a blend of biofuel such as gasohol.

Cellulosic biofuels may reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% compared to regular gasoline (Source).

You might also want to consider getting a smaller vehicle or a hybrid. Or even better, you can get an electric car or hydrogen fuel cell.

Mercedes-Benz fuel cell bus

Other Ways To Help the Environment

Those individuals that like to travel will want to think about decreasing their need to fly. 

When it comes to going shorter distances, if you can drive, then you should. This decreases the need to take a plane and reduces the gases that they are releasing. 

It would also be a good idea to think about walking or using a bicycle whenever possible. Keep in mind that this is also beneficial for your health.

Of course, public transit is another excellent option, and it will likely decrease commuting times. In fact, the chances of fatal accidents are significantly less in public transportation.

Sharing rides with others can also help decrease the number of vehicles that are on the road and will help lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Carpooling sign in 1974 following the 1973 oil crisis

Reasons For Optimism

There is plenty of information on this site, the Climate Change Guide, that will offer you other ways to help stop climate change.

While you research this, you will find that there are a significant number of things that you can easily do in your home to further decrease greenhouse gases

If you are concerned about the environment, you will want to review what is out there.  You could learn a lot and could make some beneficial decisions to reduce your carbon footprint. 

Improving transportation is essential for addressing climate change, as the sector is a major contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions. Transitioning to electric and hydrogen vehicles can significantly reduce emissions from personal and commercial transportation. Electric cars, powered by renewable energy sources, produce zero tailpipe emissions and offer a cleaner alternative to traditional gasoline vehicles. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, which only emit water vapor, present another promising solution for reducing transportation-related pollution. Additionally, expanding and enhancing public transit systems can decrease the number of individual vehicles on the road, reducing overall emissions and traffic congestion. Investing in infrastructure for cycling and walking can further promote sustainable transportation options. By integrating these approaches, we can create a more efficient, low-carbon transportation system that plays a crucial role in mitigating climate change and fostering a sustainable future.

Pollution and Nature

Further Reading and Sources

From Carbon Visuals


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