Transportation and Our Environment
Transportation is such an integral part of our lives. It is how our world moves. Whether it is getting to work, how our goods get to the store, or how we travel to new places. While important, transportation produces greenhouse gasses and air pollution that can have a negative effect on our environment, public health and wildlife. Luckily, there are ways we can help ourselves and our environment and become more aware of the growing issue.
Greenhouse gasses (GHG) emissions result from the burning of fossil fuels used to power vehicles and come from tail pipe emissions. GHGs trap heat in the atmosphere and can increase the temperature on Earth, contributing to climate change. According to the EPA, in 2018 the transportation sector accounted for 28% of all U.S. GHG emissions, making it responsible for the biggest proportion overall.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
A carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gas emissions, consisting mainly of carbon dioxide, that an individual or an organization releases into the atmosphere through their actions. One of the most common ways people produce emissions every day is from their car exhaust.
Air Quality and Public Health
Emissions from transportation make up a large percentage of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and also create poor air-quality for the public. Populations that live close to roadways, ports and coasts are most at risk for health problems. Air pollution caused by vehicles is linked to asthma, pulmonary, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.
There are many ways that we can help lessen the amount of pollution we create from transportation. The easiest place to start is with changing our personal transportation habits. Consider choosing an alternative method of transportation just once a week. This could greatly reduce the damage being caused to our personal and environmental health.
Here are some things to consider:
- Walk or bike: Riding your bike to the coffee shop in the morning could be a relaxing part of your morning routine. Tips on pedestrian Safety.
- Carpool: This will cut down on the amount of gas used and emissions in the air. You can even save some money and split on gas. Tips for successful carpooling.
- Public Transportation: You can use the time to relax before you get there or finish up some work. Busses and trains produce less emissions and have better fuel efficiency than driving your personal vehicle. Why use public transportation?
- Buy local: Many products are shipped from overseas. This will help reduce your personal carbon footprint, and support local businesses.
- Low emitting vehicles: When choosing a new vehicle choose one that is low emitting or one that may use an alternative fuel source, like a hybrid or electric car. Do your best to avoid choosing large vehicles. SUV’s and trucks have poor fuel efficiency. Vehicles that run off diesel are typically more polluting than vehicles that use gasoline.
McKenzie Doorn is an undergraduate student at the University of North Florida and an intern at the UNF Environmental Center.