Road Transport: The Second Biggest Cause Of Global Warming

According to current evolutionary theory, modern humans emerged in Africa and spread out from there about 50 to 70,000 years ago. Our histories are primarily stories of war or great journeys. Marco Polo and the Silk Route; the voyages of Magellan; de Gama and Columbus; James Cook, David Livingstone and Scott of the Antarctic; the Montgolfier brothers, Louis Bleriot and Charles Lindberg; Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. Travel, if not in our DNA, is certainly in our blood. To tell people not to travel is patently ridiculous; the human desire is just too great. But, like many of the issues connected to global warming and the associated climate change, it is not the activity that is the problem but how we choose to do it.

Throughout history, humankind has sought to travel further, faster and more safely. Early vehicles and vessels used animal or wind power. The first fossil fuel powered vehicle was produced in 1769, the first gasoline car 124 years later. The first production model appeared in 1896 when a company called Duryeas produced 13 copies from the same design. Things really got into their swing, though, in 1908 when Ford started to produce the Model T. There are now an estimated 850 million cars on the planet, about one for every seven people. There is a seemingly insatiable thirst for more. The cheapest available, the Indian Tata Nano costs around £1,400, but you can spend 100 times more than that if you wish.

In Britain, three quarters of households have access to at least one car and each car in the nation’s fleet travels an average of around 8,800 miles per year. Owning a car is seen by most as an integral part of modern life and the type of car you own speaks volumes about you. In 1986, the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said: ‘A man who, beyond the age of 26, finds himself on a bus can count himself as a failure.’

Driving a car gives the user a sense of freedom, success, power and individuality. The advertising of cars is connected with positive symbols and many people actually come to believe that their car expresses these positive feelings and symbols for them. So much so that politicians, journalists and marketers use car brand names as a shorthand to describe grouping of individual: ‘White Van Man’, ‘Mondeo Man’ and ‘Volvo Driver’ have all been used as shorthand in recent years.

Despite, or possibly because of this, the status of the car is generally higher than other forms of transport, even though they can feel like mobile prisons when the occupants are stuck in traffic jams. They are also one of the worst sources of carbon dioxide pollution.

Worldwide, road transportation is second only to deforestation as a source of global warming. Given our collective desire to enjoy the freedoms and status of car ownership, it might, at first glance, seem an impossible task to cut the carbon output from personal transportation without sacrificing a hugely important part of our lifestyle. Surprisingly, there are an amazing variety of options available to you if you choose to do so. Short journeys can be undertaken by walking or cycling. Electric cars have sufficient range to cover over 90% of the type of trips typically made within the UK. Hydrogen powered cars have range capabilities similar to petrol fuelled ones. The technology exists to move away from petroleum based transport, what we need now is a dedicated move to the infrastructure that will support them.

Averting global warming and the associated climate change does not need to mean abandoning all of life’s pleasure.

Source by Harold Forbes

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