The Scales Are Tipping over: Are Cars a Blessing or a Curse

Cars are an integral part of society, and life is almost unimaginable without them. Most parents drive to work in them, drop their children to school in them, and even get their groceries home in them! The object of countless boys and girls’ fantasies, cars have been pronounced “modern marvels” by the History Channel [1], and the mass produced car one of the most important inventions of the 20th century [2].However, this so-called “boon” to society is turning into a “bane” much faster than previously thought. From unbelievable amounts of pollution to huge consumption of resources, the simple car is rapidly growing into one of the deadliest objects for the environment today [3], possibly endangering your children’s future. Karl Benz, the creator of the first car, merely wanted to produce something that would revolutionize society. Little did he know that his invention, unless timely controlled, could destroy the very thing he set out to improve.Transportation is the single largest cause for pollution in the US, with it producing over half the quantity of carbon monoxide, over one-third the quantity of nitrous oxides and almost a quarter of the hydrocarbons produced in the US annually. [4] And the majority of that contamination comes from cars and trucks. [5] Consider this: There are more than 254. 2 million cars and trucks in the US right now. [6] And CO2 emissions from those cars and trucks is about 1 million TONS per day [7].This much pollution per day is obviously extremely unbeneficial to the environment as well as humans, with an EPA study finding a direct relationship between high levels of fine particles, ozone, nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide and an increase in the number of hospital admissions for respiratory and cardiovascular diseases [8] as well as an increase in the size of the ozone hole. [9] One might say that buses, heavy equipment and airplanes pollute the air just as much as cars. However, that is absolutely not the case.Just the sheer number of cars and trucks in operation makes the number of buses, 850,000 [10]; tractors, 4. 8 million [11] and commercial airplanes, ~35,000 worldwide (based on current published data for aircraft carriers) look tiny. Extensive car and truck pollution is known to increase the chances of asthma, bronchitis, heart attack and even Alzheimer’s [7]. Apart from that, induced air (particulate matter) pollution from cars and trucks kills an average of 40,000 annually in the U. S. 7] Other types of vehicular pollution, some albeit more individually contaminating, are not nearly as prevalent to cause environmental and human damage on such a large scale. Another major facet of how cars are slowly destroying the Earth is in terms of resources. Believe it or not, it takes a whopping 39,090 gallons of water to produce the average car! [12][13] As this volume of water is approximately equal to the volume of an above ground swimming pool [12], this essentially means that every time you buy a car, you use a swimming pool worth’s of water, and that is without counting maintenance, fuel, cleaning … he list goes on and on. The United States is the largest consumer of gasoline in the world, exhausting 134 billion gallons of gasoline in 2011, the majority of which is used in transport. [14] Gasoline, a fossil fuel, is rapidly depleting, with some sources stating it might be completely exhausted in less than 50 years [15]. Furthermore, innumerable other resources are used to produce a car apart from gasoline, e. g. aluminum, steel, plastic, leather, rubber, petroleum, coal, copper and others [16].Limiting the use of cars could decrease the amount of these resources used by a huge amount, thereby contributing to an more efficient and better tomorrow. It is arguable that cars are just too advantageous for their use to be restricted. Be that as it may, most of the purposes we, as a society, use cars for can be fulfilled more efficiently by alternate means. Instead of driving to work every day, the office-goers can use public transport. Instead of commuting to school via car, schoolchildren can use the school bus system.Exceptions can be made for emergencies. In this way, the community will not lose the utility of cars, while benefitting the environment as well. Fujio Cho, the former chairman of Toyota, made the statement that he made during the North American International Auto Show of 2004. [17] A strong advocate of environmentally friendly automobiles like the Prius Plug-in Hybrid, he understands the importance of clean and green cars in society. It is difficult and impractical to ban cars completely, on a large scale.However, major limitations to usage of cars need to be brought to society, to prevent pollution, wastage of resources and the number of other ways in which cars harm the environment. Subsequently, a “Car Control Policy” should be implemented, which prevents the ownership of more than one car per family, and if more, then at least one of the cars must be a fuel efficient hybrid or other such kind, with a minimum fuel economy of 40 miles per gallon and tailpipe CO2 emissions of a maximum 300g/mile. The government can deduct income taxes by up to $2,000 for those families who agree to follow this policy.And albeit not always initially, once families slowly start trying out the new system, one step at a time, all citizens that love their Earth and wish the best for their children will surely adapt to this change, because in the end, its their planet to inherit. Remember, your support will help pave the way for a cleaner, better tomorrow! Notes and References [1] Modern Marvels is a series of episodes by the History Channel [2] “Transportation in the 20th Century – Studyzone. org. ” 2006. 28 Mar. 2013 [3] “Green tax: What makes diesel cars so deadly | Firstpost. 2012. 28 Mar. 2013 [4] “Transportation and Air Quality | US EPA. ” 27 Mar. 2013 [5]”National Emissions Inventory (NEI) Air Pollutant Emissions Trends … ” 2004. 27 Mar. 2013 [6] “National Transportation Statistics | Bureau of Transportation Statistics. ” 2012. 27 Mar. 2013 [7]”Car Pollution Facts – EVsRoll. ” 2011. 27 Mar. 2013 [8] “Cars and Air Pollution – EPA Victoria. ” 2005. 27 Mar. 2013 [9] “Automobiles and Ozone – US Environmental Protection Agency. ” 28 Mar. 2013 [10]”• Total number of registered U. S. buses by state | Statistic – Statista. ” 2011. 28 Mar. 013 [11] “Tractors statistics – countries compared – NationMaster. ” 2011. 28 Mar. 2013 [12]”Water Trivia Facts | Drinking Water | US EPA. ” 2010. 28 Mar. 2013 [13] “How Many Gallons of Water Does it Take to Make . . . : TreeHugger. ” 2011. 28 Mar. 2013 [14] “How much gasoline does the United States consume? – FAQ … – EIA. ” 2011. 28 Mar. 2013 [15] “Are We Running Out of Oil and Gas? – PetroStrategies, Inc. ” 2009. 28 Mar. 2013 [16] “HowStuffWorks “Top 5 Materials Used in Auto Manufacturing”. ” 2009. 28 Mar. 2013 [17]”Fujio Cho Quotes – Notable Quotes. ” 2005. 28 Mar. 2013

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