What Is Green Transportation And Why Is It Important?
Image courtesy of Wikipedia
Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a car that got over 100 miles to the gallon? Or better yet, to have a car that didn’t require any gas at all?
The field of green transportation has grown by leaps and bounds in the past few years, largely thanks to rising gas prices and increased awareness. If you’d like to learn more about green transportation, and why it’s so important to our future, then you’ve come to the right place!
The Bad News…
According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the United States consumes 378 million gallons of gasoline every single day.
And when it comes to our petroleum consumption, we gobble down almost 19.5 million barrels. Every day.
The statistics are sobering. And it’s even more sobering to think that this adds up to trillions of dollars that are leaving our country each year, funding some governments and organizations that definitely do not have our best interests at heart.
And the environmental costs to all this fossil fuel consumption? They’re staggering.
The bright side to this gray looking cloud is that we do have another choice than to continue this downward spiral.
What Is Green Transportation?
Green transportation is any kind of transportation that doesn’t negatively impact the environment.
Types of Green Transportation
- Electric Scooters and bikes
- Green vehicles (powered by solar, electricity, hydrogen, wind, or biofuels)
- Car sharing
- Public transportation (buses, trains, subway)
Transportation Alternatives Magazine has created a Green Transportation Hierarchy. It uses the same method as the Food Pyramid to illustrate the greenest transportation methods first, giving them priority on public roads, and then the least green (and thus lowest priority) at the smallest portion of the pyramid.
Image courtesy Transportation Alternatives Magazine
Why Switching To Green Transportation Methods Is So Important
So, why does green transportation matter so much?
Well, you’ve probably already heard that one day we’re going to run out of fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, etc.). Fossil fuels, by their very nature, are non-renewable because they take millions of years to form. So our Earth only has a limited supply.
And when are we going to run out?
Well, that’s anyone’s guess.
Problem #1: PEAK Oil
Many people believe in the theory of Peak Oil, which says that there is a specific point in time when our oil production will “peak”, and then fall into permanent decline. But timing that peak is difficult at best. Some experts believe that Peak has come and gone, and that we’re now in the “twilight years” of fossil fuel production.
For instance, oil magnate T. Boone Pickens believes that global oil production peaked in 2008, and he testified before the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that he thought we were now in a permanent decline.
Other experts believe we might have as many as 100 years before Peak Oil occurs.
Whether or not we’re going to run out of oil is not the issue. As we said earlier, fossil fuels are non-renewable, so we’re going to run out someday.
The problem lies in the fact that our oil consumption is not slowing down. It’s speeding up. And thanks to the phenomenal growth of countries like India and China, we’re consuming oil at lightning speed. Which means if Peak Oil still is in the future, we’re going to get there sooner rather than later. If it’s in the past, we’ve really got to start scrambling to find a replacement for our oil-addicted society.
This is why getting”unaddicted” to fossil fuels is so important. The less we rely on oil, the less impacted we’ll be when that Black Gold finally runs out. In fact, Sweden has become the first country to announce a mission to break their country’s addiction to fossil fuels by 2020.
Problem #2: Foreign Dependency
Another major problem with oil is where it’s located. The majority of the world’s oil is controlled by countries that are unstable (like Venezuela and Saudi Arabia).
According to a study done by the RAND Corp., the greatest risk the United States faces when it comes to depending on foreign oil is the risk of supply disruption.
All you have to do is remember back to the mid- 1970’s (you can learn more about the 1973 Oil Crisis here). Our nation’s oil supply was impacted by only 5% thanks to an OPEC embargo. But that 5% decline sent prices through the roof (they quadrupled over just a few months), and caused an intense panic through our society.
Can you imagine what would happen if OPEC did that again? Our nation is even more addicted to oil than it was then. It would cause a major disruption, and panic, in our way of life.
This is just one of the risks with depending on foreign powers for our oil. Ultimately, they have control. We don’t.
What You Can Do
The good news here is that we have the power to change. But, this change has to start on an individual level. We all have to stop taking steps to green our transportation and use less oil in our daily life.
- If you’re in the market for buying a new car, think about getting a hybrid. Hybrids get incredible gas milage because they use a combination of gas and electricity to move the vehicle. They also produce cleaner emissions, which means fewer greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. And, take advantage of the tax credits our government is currently offering for hybrid cars. You can find out more on the tax credits here.
- If you live close enough, walk or bike to work. These are the two greenest options to get around: zero fossil fuels, and zero emissions! The second best option is to take public transportation, or car pool with someone else.
- Don’t just drive mindlessly. Be aware of how much gas you’re using! Combine shopping trips so you only go out once, and walk or bike whenever you can.