Air pollution from Cars and its Impact on Global Warming
Global warming is the continuing rise in the average temperature of the earth’s climate. This increase in earth’s temperature occurs majorly in oceans, but to some degree it has also occurred on the air and sea surface. According to the intergovernmental panel on climate changes, 90% of the increase in the earth’s temperature is a result of human activities that produces greenhouse gases. Any activity that produces carbon dioxide, or any other greenhouse gas contributes to global warming on a scale that depends on the amount of gas produced. In 2004, Cynthia Rosenzweig and William Solecki, members of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), reported: “Since the Industrial Revolution carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen from about 270 parts per million (ppm) to about 370 ppm . Nearly one-third of human-induced nitrous oxide emissions are a result of industrial processes and automobile emissions” (p.2). Similarly, in the USA alone transportation sector accounted for a total of 28% of greenhouse emissions in 2012. This paper attempts looks at the impact of cars right from the manufacturing processes to disposal on global warming. (Bandow, 1996).
Cars are produced in heavy industries. In order to, run machines that are involved in the manufacturing of cars greenhouse gases are produced. The most common gas produced is carbon monoxide, which comes out as an exhaust gas when fossil fuel burns. Another gas that may come out of this process is methane. This gas is produced in low contents compared to carbon four oxide, but it also takes part in creating the greenhouse effect. Methane is usually produced when there in incomplete combustion of fuel (Bandow, 1996).
Another source of emission of greenhouse gases is the car engine.This is mostly carbon (IV) oxide, carbon (II) oxide, nitrogen oxides, sculpture oxides, methane and tiny solid particles such as metal and soot. Some vehicles still use leaded fuels, which results in emission of lead, a heavy metal,. Most vehicles engines are run using petrol or diesel, which are products of crude oil. When combustion takes place and carbon IV oxide is produced there is complete combustion. When the engine is a faulty one combustion may not be completed, and methane and carbon II oxide may be released to the atmosphere as exhaust gases (Hopkin, 2007).
For efficient running of vehicles a number of fluids are applied either as lubricants or coolants. This may include motor oil, antifreezes, gasoline and air conditioning refrigerants. When exposed to heat and oxygen these fluids undergo chemical changes. At times they may react with car engines parts depending on wear and tear status of the car engine. When this occurs they may pick up heavy metals and the resultant compound is usually detrimental to the ozone layer. Some countries are still using CFC-12 as cooling oil which leads to the depletion of the ozone layer (Aubrecht, 1988).
In heavy industries where vehicles are produced greenhouse gases are produced either directly or indirectly.Indirectly is when gas emission comes from attempts to produce power to run heavy machinery in these industries. Gas emission happens directly when it is produced by the machine used to produce the cars. When these gases are produced to the atmosphere they combine with other gases and form a blanket that stops heat from being reflected back to the space from the earth. When heat energy is radiated from earth to the space these gases reflect it back to the earth. This continued process makes the oceans, global air and seas to absorb this excess heat energy that is in the earth surface (Ring,2012).
When a car engine runs, a set of gases are produced. These gases form a blanket in the atmosphere. Most of the heat energy that is emitted to the earth by the sun through the ozone layer is trapped in the earth by this blanket. Only a little heat penetrates the blanket and this affects the natural system. Most of the heat energy trapped in the earth is absorbed in oceans, and this leads to rise in the water level. Currently, there are very many visual effects of global warming. This includes, fast melting of glaciers and ice sheets, rise in sea level, premature blooming of plants, the destruction of animal habitats by floods, and interruption in the migrating patterns of birds (Stevens,2008).
Exhaust gases from cars accelerates the disintegration of the ozone layer, and also creates the greenhouse effect. This in turn increase the earth’s temperature and melts glaciers, which have a devastating effect to human beings and animals, as it submerges the coastal regions that are currently occupied by human beings and animals. As this ice melts away the sea levels rise, frequent flooding is seen in regions on or below sea level. These flood waters destroy animal habitats for good. These animals are forced to move inland, and most of them die either because of drowning or due to failure in adapting to their new home (Hopkin, 2007).
Heat emitted in car engines during combustion has also played a part in global warming which in turn have led to changing climate patterns. (Hopkin, 2007) This change in climate patterns brings about drought and famine. This happens when seasons changes, and farmers are unable to tell when they should plant crops or not. In many parts of the world where rain water is the main source of water for crops, famine and drought are now very common. Other areas are experiencing opposite effects to the ones mentioned above. In these regions, the rain is usually in excess and most of the crops are carried away by floods while the remaining crops are destroyed due to excess water. Warming temperatures have also contributed to storms, which are now becoming increasingly frequentin most parts of the world. These storms have led to great destruction of property. Kristen Flint (2011), in his article in the Dartmouth Undergraduate Journal of Science has confirmed that “Global warming is and will continue to have dramatic effects on aquatic life and biodiversity” (p. 16). Such effects are expected to render many animal species extinct and will endanger a few others. With solutions not being sought immediately, life on the planet may become history.
Another menace associated with global warming is the destruction of the ecosystem of the polar ice caps. These blocks of ice are a habitat to many species of polar wildlife, such as the polar bear, penguins and the seals. These ice caps are melting into the oceans, and most polar animals are not adapted to live in any other place other than the polar ice caps. If global warming continues most of these animals will also become extinct(Hopkin, 2007).
The first solution goes right to the industries where cars are manufactured. We can reduce the greenhouse effect, and thus global warming by replacing carbon emitting sources of energy with renewable ones. These renewable sources of energy are sunlight, wind and rain. This source of energy can be harnessed using windmills and hydroelectric turbines. Using this energy will reduce the consumption of fossil fuels and therefore reduce the amount of gases emitted to the atmosphere .However, the potential of renewables explored so far remains limited. On the positive side, the European Renewable Energy Council (n.d.) has noted efforts to explore renewable resources: “[Since the past 30 years], development of smarter and more efficient technology has been impressive. These technologies have improved and costs have fallen dramatically” (p. 7). As research continues the future of renewable energy use looks bright.
Another factor that cannot be overlooked is the fact that the use of renewable sources of energy dissipates less heat to the atmosphere compared to burning fossil fuels to produce energy. It is then easy to observe that use of renewable sources of energy will reduce the amount of heat energy released to the atmosphere and thus global warming. If these fossil fuels have to use as it seems efficient machines must be used where energy loses in form of heat and unburned gases are reduced (Budzionowki, 2011).
When it comes to addressing the global warming effect from car engines we need to come up with an efficient engine that dissipates less exhaust gases to the atmosphere. After some time, cars become very inefficient in fuel consumption. Most of this unburned gases are released to the atmosphere.”Governments need to come up with regulations that will render such cars unroadworthy” (Budow,p.10,1996). This have been implemented in some countries, whereby we find that used vehicles from other countries cannot be imported into such countries because they are assumed to be highly polluting. In the future scientists should explore other means of powering vehicles, other than combustion (Budow, 1996) .
Another way to curb this problem is to reduce the number of cars that are in use. The government can achieve this by making it hard to own or maintain a car. If need be moral persuasion can be used where government agent sensitizes people on global warming contribution from vehicles. In some countries, the government makes sure that the public means of transport are very efficient, so that many people will have no need for personal cars. This public transportation may also include electric trains which are very efficient in reducing carbon emission. It is also clear that the use of one big vehicle with a higher carrying capacity may reduce gas emission compared to a situation where many people are using personal cars (Hopkin,2007).
The whole process from manufacturing of cars to driving them is full of several instances where greenhouse gases and various other gases are released. All of these gases slowly, but surely destroy the ozone layer, leading to global warming and other environmental problems. Even heat emitted from car engines has its own fair share of contributing to this global warming phenomenon. Everyone ranging from individuals who drive cars to the government is partly responsible for these air pollution issues. The solutions start with the manufacturers themselves. Big car companies can help by increasing research initiatives in alternative fuels and power sources to run cars. Existing engine designs should be reviewed to make them more efficient, so as to run better with lesser emissions. Governments are usually the biggest factors in preventing air pollution and related issues. Larger countries should consider introducing laws that make it difficult for people to own vehicles, possibly by introducing ownership tax or any such onetime tax. In addition, governments should also introduce necessary regulations on the use and maintenance of cars older than 5 years. This will prevent higher emissions from older vehicles. (Budow, 1996) Lastly, governments should also consider indirect ways such as strengthening public transport and mass transit systems so as to prevent mass use of cars by individuals. (Restated the problem & solution)
What is the conclusion? Why should we care about the problem?
At this point, I would conclude that while we cannot really expect much from big car companies, but we as individuals should consider these issues seriously, in the interest of our own future, and that of the planet which is our home. Air pollution will not go away immediately if we implement the measures stated above, but we should make a start somewhere. We as individuals should ensure that our representatives in the government bring adequate legislation on this issue. We should further ensure that where possible public transportation should be used.
We really need to care about this problem today keeping in mind our future generations, and implement some or all of the measures proposed above, we could at least make suitable start, and set the road towards a planet that will be habitable and healthy to live. We also need to care for the disappearing wildlife, fish and other kinds of creatures that are on the path to extinction because of phenomenon such as global warming. We need to care for our own self as well, since irregular weather patterns will create problems of food and water. If we continue in the same reckless manner, we may not have a planet for our future generations to exist, and that gives us a big enough reason to care.
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