Personal Vehicles: More Harm than Good?

According to NASA, carbon dioxide (CO2) levels are at their highest in the last 650,000 years, and seventeen of the eighteen warmest years on record have occurred since 2001 consecutively. It is widely known that the industrial revolution takes most of the blame in this situation, along with the development of motor engines and such.

Many of us don’t want our planet to turn into a hot wasteland, unable to support life as we know it. As a matter of fact, in 2013, 120,000 Australians got together and signed a petition against global warming, imploring the government to take action and protect The Great Barrier Reef.

Damage to the environment

The environment is the first one to take the hit when looking at greenhouse gases and this is also where changes are the most apparent (especially when using data gathered over the years). Where do most of these greenhouse gases come from?

An article from sciencing tells us that car pollution is one of the major causes of global warming. They then go on to state that sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide can create acid rain when mixed with normal rainwater. This can destroy crops, forests and even our own buildings. Eighth-grade science class also tells us that carbon monoxide (mainly what is released from exhaustion pipes) is toxic for human beings as it replaces the oxygen molecules in our blood.

The Environmental Protection Association (EPA) suggests that motor vehicles cause 75% of all air monoxide pollution in the U.S. To make matters worse, The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 4.6 million people die each year from causes directly linked to air pollution.

Can this be fixed? Luckily it’s not too bad. One of the ways this can be fixed is by “Walking, biking or using public transportation when possible.” as stated by sciencing themselves.

Damage to society

The environment isn’t the only to suffer in this ordeal. The same could be said for our society as a study by independent reveals that

“Each car in London costs NHS and society £8,000 due to air pollution.”

Economists generally use a very simple model to determine whether something is worth having or doing, and that is through what they call “Marginal Social Costs” and “Marginal Private Benefits”. In this specific case, it could be argued that the social cost (pollution) of having so many personal vehicles roaming around, outweighs the private benefit (moving from point A to B) gained. Although not every city is “London” in this scenario, many cities find themselves alike.

Adding on to this, Chris Large from Global Action Plan, an NGO specializing in sustainable behavior (environmentally and otherwise) predicts:

Switching a million cars from diesel to electric would save more than £360m in health costs from local air pollution, while ditching the car for walking or cycling in a quarter of journeys would save £1.1bn.

Solution

Simply put, to offset the pressure that personal vehicles put on our environment and society we must diversify our modes of transport.

First world countries are too heavily reliant on either personal vehicles or public transport as a means of getting around, regardless if it is for business or pleasure.

With Tesla’s rise in recent years, it is now widely accepted that electric cars are the way forward in terms of reducing our carbon footprint. This makes complete sense given that the battery of these cars is charged from any other source than the main grid. Most grids still very much rely on burning fossil fuels -- a non-renewable and damaging source of energy.

Due to this, countries such as France, Netherlands and the United Kingdom have pledged to completely get rid of diesel and petrol cars by 2040 latest, with the Netherlands aiming for as early as 2030.

On the flipside, however, it is also argued that electric cars may actually increase carbon footprint since they require lithium-ion batteries — a highly specialized type of battery. It is further estimated that producing an electric vehicle contributes twice as much to global warming potential, and uses twice the energy to produce over a regular diesel car.

Emerging transport such as bike-sharing, car-sharing and alternatives modes of transport generally can prove useful not only when it comes to efficiency but also when we take our carbon footprint reduction into consideration. Looking at Vancouver, Canada (population: 647,000) shows just that, as it is home to 3,000 vehicles in a car-sharing network, and is working towards

“Building a walkable and bikeable city through increased density, mixed land use, traffic-calming, interesting streetscapes…”

Vancouver is efficient in the sense that they choose alternative modes of transport, their 2016 report called “Walking + Cycling in Vancouver” will tell you all about it. As a result, the British-Columbian city is also said to have highly unpolluted air.

On the other hand, Manchester, England (population: 510,000) is said to have some of the worst air pollution in the UK as its citizens are

“exposed to dangerous levels of air pollution

And is furthermore impacting the health of its population, and further costs them £1bn every year. The North English city is also home to the worst traffic in the UK outside London… coincidence?

Iomob

Iomob is working to decentralize and build the Internet of Mobility, by incentivizing and facilitating the use of alternative transport. By using the blockchain, Iomob plans to minimize fees and allow mobility providers and end-users alike to connect on a peer-to-peer basis. In their own words: Iomob is “a system which produces a useful output at the lowest possible marginal cost.”
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