What wonderful inventions cars, trains, buses and airplanes have been! They have allowed us to explore our Earth quicker and for a lower price, but unfortunately the fossil energies they require are the main reason for our air pollution problems. Our transportation needs produce 30% of all greenhouse gas emissions. But there are green solutions to reduce air pollution and make transportation cleaner and healthier; one of them is the use of your public transportation systems. This is why and how:
Environmental impact of Vehicle Pollution
The combustion of fossil fuels such as natural gas and gasoline used for our means of transportation produces harmful chemicals, among them carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, which is the main pollutant and contributor to warming Earth. Over the past 150 years, cars, planes and power plants have released enough carbon dioxide into the atmosphere to raise its levels higher than ever before. Single car emissions are generally low, but added to the emissions from millions of vehicles daily used creates a major impact upon the environment and the air quality.
Car pollution reaches from water pollution to noise pollution, air pollution to global warming, to impacting human health. On-road motor vehicles not only release Carbon Dioxide but also Oxides of Nitrogen, which contribute to the formation of acid rain. They are also precursors to the formation of ozone (smog), which damages the respiratory system and injures plants. In the West, around 6% of the population will die from air pollution and, it’s no surprise that the car industry is responsible for up to 80% of urban air pollution.
The air pollution from motor vehicles causes a variety of human and environmental problems that could be avoided or at least easily reduced. Among the green solutions that help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, there is public transportation. In truth, public transportation benefits are even more numerous that you may think.
Benefits of public transit:
As a daily commuter, public transit can help you to save gas and money. According to an APTA study, access to bus and rail lines can reduce driving by 4,400 miles per household annually. Americans living in areas served by public transportation save 640 million gallons of fuel annually in congestion reduction alone. Public transportation’s overall effects save the United States 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline annually. This green community transportation provides an affordable, and for many, necessary, alternative to driving. Households that are likely to use public transportation on a given day save more than $10,000 every year. Free public transportation makes them save even more money.
In addition, public transportation systems reduce your carbon footprint. One person switching to public transit can cut annual carbon emissions by more than 4,800 pounds. Communities that invest in public transit curb the nation’s carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons annually: equivalent to if New York City; Washington, DC; Atlanta; Denver; and Los Angeles combined stopping using electricity.
On an individual scale, you can help limit your carbon dioxide emissions, and therefore your global warming impact, by changing your driving habits. Enjoy your next trip on bus or rail lines, take a nap, read, get to know your neighbor, and above all know that it’s greener, safer, more affordable and less stressful than driving your car.