We live in times of abundance; we manage to have plenty of the scarce resources available to us. It sounds good, doesn’t it? Unfortunately this does not apply to all of us, in reality most of us struggle on a daily basis, whether it is to have access to water and food, or commodities to meet basic needs.
We are all experiencing the consequences of overpopulation and with this we face an even bigger problem – cars overpopulation.
We used to think that the Earth has an endless supply of whatever it is we need, turns out – it has an end … and we are approaching it. As probably most of you know the population of the Earth is reaching mountain heights (actually, we are well beyond that) and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), we should be over 9 billion by 2050.
Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but more people leads to more consumption, more waste, more “stuff” to own and more vehicles to drive. At the moment we are facing an era where there are billions and billions of vehicles not only on the roads on a daily basis, but also on parking lots and junk yards. Huge spaces of green parks, which were doing the opposite of what cars do now.
As the “Big Yellow Taxi” song goes: “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot…”
So, what is the reason behind the overpopulation of cars, is it overpopulation of people alone causing it? – The answer is No.
One of the main causes for the overabundance of cars is the fact that more often than not people have more than one car, unlike the past when a family of 4 would stick to one car only, maximum two, now there is a car for each family member. The fact that dealerships keep on offering more and more attractive options for you to get a car, making it so easy that you don’t even have to think twice, especially if you are just leasing – contributes to the problem.
The convenience of the personal vehicle
The convenience that a car offers, and the fact that we are so used to be pampered, is yet another factor responsible for our situation. But the fact that we are not familiar with the full degree of impact that our actions have on nature, and the world on a global scale, in my opinion, is the single most important factor that has led us to be where we are today.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a.k.a. EPA, the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by a vehicle depends on the amount of carbon in the fuel, typically 99% of the carbon is emitted as carbon dioxide. For comparison, the CO2 emissions from a gallon of gasoline are 8,887 grams CO2/ gallon and the CO2 emissions from a gallon of diesel are 10,180 grams CO2/ gallon. However, due to its longer mileage the diesel manages to offset the amount of GHG and comes as a better option compared to gasoline.
Also, keep in mind that the gasoline emissions are based on a recent regulation establishing greenhouse gas (GHG) standards for model year 2012 – 2016 vehicles, which means that if your vehicle happens to be older and it runs on gas, then chances are it is polluting the air even more. If you want to calculate the amount of carbon dioxide your vehicle is emitting, you can do so on EPA’s website by following the link above.
This article concentrates on vehicles that run on gas and diesel. For the effect, type of emissions and level of pollution of hybrid, hydrogen and electric vehicles, you can keep an eye on our blog for an upcoming article.
According to Stanford University, the number of cars and light trucks on the road in the US, as of 2012, equals to 250 million and they sit idle on average 92% of the time.
“….With the average car costing more than $6,500 per year just to own, (i.e., not including gas and other operating expenses), this represents over $1.5 trillion dollars each year in wasted capital…”
This leaves us with 1/3rd of our cities devoted to car parks instead of green areas. Not to mention that more than 54 million vehicles leave factories globally on an annual basis, which not only adds on to the already crowded roads, but it also creates pollution and waste during the production process, and additional GHG emissions for the vehicles to be transported to the dealerships.
Given the economic advantages of car plants, such as increased employment rates in the region, they happen to be in densely populated areas, so that people won’t have to endure long commutes, which on its own makes it even more harmful to the society – in terms of air and water quality.
As everything else, if it is good for the economy – who cares about the environment? Well, we do, right?
According to the EPA, the Transportation sector in the U.S. contributes to 28% of the GHG Emissions; within the transportation sector 84% of the GHG emissions are created by passenger cars, light, medium and heavy duty trucks; 95% of the GHG emissions coming from those vehicles are in the form of carbon dioxide.
Thankfully, the EPA has developed their SmartWay program for which you can learn more here.
We all are well aware of the implications of CO2, even though it is a natural element and we exhale it all the time, when released into the atmosphere it triggers a cycle which leads to climate change, gradual global warming and the thinning of the ozone layer, and without it we can kiss our planet goodbye.
In the graph below you can see the changes in the amount of GHG emissions in the transportation sector from 1990 – 2012 (courtesy of EPA):
As you can see the Light Duty Vehicles, including passenger cars, have the highest contribution to the overall amount of GHG emissions. This reason has caused the creation of various companies encouraging sustainable consumption, a.k.a. carpooling. Companies, such as Getaround and Zimride, create the opportunity for people to search for the destination they are going to and then it gives them information about other people going in the same direction with available seats in their cars (reasonably priced). The idea behind it is to have people commuting together, relying less on public transportation and using the capabilities of their cars to the fullest, while saving on gas. It is estimated that the average shared car replaces 9-13 other cars and GHG emissions by 40%.
Here are some terrifying facts from www.overpopulation.org:
- For seven of the last eight years, the world has consumed more grain than it produced. One fifth of the U.S. grain is being turned into fuel ethanol.
- One third of reptile, amphibian, and fish species are threatened with extinction.
- Grain yields increased half as fast in the 1990s as in the 1960s.
- Today’s reserves of lead, tin and copper could be depleted within the next 25 years if their extraction expands at current rates.
- Four years after London introduced a fee on motor vehicles entering the city center, car traffic had fallen by 36% while bicycle trips increased by 49%.
- The world produces 110 million bicycles a year, but an annual production of around 49 million cars, yet there are still more cars on the roads than bikes.
Targeting human overpopulation alone is not an easy task, however, targeting cars overpopulation is easier than we think.
Of course, we do have the conventional options of riding a bike, skateboarding, roller skating or any of the like; all of these are great and I try to take advantage of them as much as possible. However, these options are not for everyone and they are not applicable everywhere, which is what makes carpooling great!
Just think about it – if you agree to carpool to work with several of your colleagues, you’ll have company in the car, you’ll have someone to hold your doughnut and let you bite in while driving, you will save on gas and mileage on your car, and you will help the environment by decreasing you greenhouse gas emissions.
No matter how you look at it, it’s a win-win situation. So why not do it?
If you happen to be moving, and would like to stick to being Eco-friendly, check out our tips on making your move Eco-Friendly. Thanks!