Connecting Cars and Carbon Dioxide

According to a 2016 study conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), transportation accounts for 28% of total greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.  The transportation economic sector includes the movement of people and goods by cars, trucks, trains, ships, airplanes, and other vehicles, however, the largest sources of transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions include passenger cars and light-duty trucks, including sport utility vehicles, pickup trucks, and minivans.  These sources account for over half of the emissions from the transportation sector. The remaining greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector come from other modes of transportation, including freight trucks, commercial aircraft, ships, boats, and trains, as well as pipelines and lubricants.  The majority of greenhouse gas emissions from transportation are carbon dioxide emissions resulting from the combustion of petroleum-based products, like gasoline, in internal combustion engines.

Based on 2014 data from an EPA study, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions totaled 6,870 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents. This total represents a 7 percent increase since 1990 but a 7 percent decrease since 2005.  So how can we keep this number decreasing as it has been since 2005?  By implementing regulations and restrictions for fossil fuel consumption and combustion, but also by introducing alternative methods of transportation and best practice methods for transportation.  An example of a regulation is the EPA’s light-duty vehicle greenhouse gas rules, which are projected to save consumers $1.7 trillion at the pump by 2025, and eliminate 6 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas pollution. An example of a best practice method would be to reduce the travel demand by employing urban planning to reduce the number of miles that people drive each day and reducing the need for driving through travel efficiency measures such as commuter, biking, and pedestrian programs such as the EPA’s Smart Growth Program. As a country the U.S. can learn from practices other countries have implemented such as Germany, who is testing out a trial run of offering free public transportation in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emission. The EPA on behalf of the U.S. is trying, but are we trying hard enough?

4 thoughts on “Connecting Cars and Carbon Dioxide

  1. You bring up a great point about shifting our transportation methods to those that are more sustainable and use less resources. Implementing programs like the EPA and German government have are important ways that we can reduce our CO2 emissions while also creating healthier, therefore happier lives. I find it somewhat hopeful that the totaled green house gas emissions have decreased since 2005, but there is no guarantee that this will continue into the future. As inhabitants of this earth, I believe we should each individually take into consideration how much simple everyday acts affect our atmosphere rather than depending upon the EPA to do it for us. You explained that setting in place rules and regulations against the emission of greenhouse gasses has helped this overall decrease since the early 2000s, though it is important to also realize that under new administrations the EPA reserves the right to deregulate and regulate rules as they see fit.

  2. You do an excellent job highlight how the various types of transportation systems utilized in the United States and how they have contributed to immense CO2 output in the atmosphere. In regards to the development of other fuels, there are actually numerous alternative fuels that are currently in production or have been for decades. These fuels toggle the ratio of Ethanol and other chemicals used to make gasoline for the sake of pushing certain outputs for vehicles but also to reduce emissions. The Clear Air Act of 1992, delineated eight alternative fuel sources that would aim to curb the carbon footprint. An example of this is seen when looking at P-Series Fuels that run independent of gasoline and therefore have the potential to significantly reduce carbon output.
    In regards to your other points of modifying transportation or making it more accessible and affordable, I agree 100%. With that being said however, this is will not be solved through environmental means, but rather through smart and calculated infrastructure bills or other delegations of spending.

  3. I agree with Marielle that compared to the rest of the world the United States needs to step up our game to help aid in the global reduction of Carbon Dioxide emissions. I also think it would be interesting to explore more “restrictions for fossil fuel consumption and combustion,” but I think in the post 9/11 world we are living in our rights are already limited compared towhead they used to be, and now more than ever people are especially sensitive about further restrictions on our right to live our life. I just think this sensitivity will make adding restrictions a harder sell now, and instead we might have to focus on positive reinforcement and fiscal rewards like the EU and England are pursuing.

  4. I thought this blog explored a very interesting topic and I also appreciate how well the concepts were explained. I think that urban planning and creating more accessible public transportation is a very important step in decreasing CO2 emissions as well. The points brought up in this post made me think of Los Angeles. Compared to other cities I’ve visited, the air is extremely polluted. Public transportation is very unpopular there and so many more people drive compared to cities like New York City, Boston, and others. Creating accessible and high functioning public transportation is so important and the idea of making it free seems like a small price for the city to pay in order to reduce CO2 emissions for the sake of the future.

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