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How Car Companies Are Addressing Climate Change

In the light of climate change and the increasing need to make technological advances to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the automobile industry is often a focal point for environmentalists. Even though our current administration has made removing environmental regulations a cornerstone of its platform, the automotive industry is still making green strides. Car companies have recognized the need to evolve and are addressing the threat of global warming head-on with the goal of becoming more sustainable.

How Does the Car Industry Affect Climate Change?

With the increased risks associated with climate change come an increased need for environmental education. The goals of this education is not only to spread awareness about the issues in sustainability, but to help people develop the skills and motivation necessary to move society toward a healthier future.

So, what is climate change?

Climate change is happening as a result of an increase in greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. The gases that contribute to this effect are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases. The accumulation of these gases and the trapping of the sun's warmth is called "the greenhouse effect" because our atmosphere acts similarly to a greenhouse; the solar radiation is captured and does not have a means of escaping.

Carbon dioxide is the leading gas that is causing the most drastic effects on our atmosphere, the bulk of which can be blamed on the burning of fossil fuels. Reducing the amount of gas that we use in our personal cars can lower CO2 emissions. This is what car companies have set out to do by evolving their product lines to be more fuel efficient.

Evolution of the Automobile Industry

In the 1970s, there was a new focus on environmental protection. From it came the Clean Air Act, which led to the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This organization created a number of regulations to decrease pollution and preserve the environment.

To meet some of the regulations put forth by the government, engineers got to work changing the production of vehicles and bring a new normal to how we conduct "business as usual." In the 1980s and '90s, the introduction of computerization in cars helped to reduce the amount of CO2 produced by the engine. By 1981, the spread of the catalytic converter in auto manufacturing helped users more efficiently curb emissions.

The rate of fuel efficiency has continued to rise, and the rate of CO2 emissions are continuing to drop in passenger vehicles as regulations become more strict over time. Car companies have felt the pressure to continue to evolve their offerings to make them more sustainable, as well as dependable, to keep up with the competition.

In 2013, 36 new hybrid and electric vehicles hit the market, and they were much sought-after by consumers. Not only are auto manufacturers designing products that have a smaller environmental impact themselves, but they are also greening up their manufacturing processes. For example, Volkswagen is working to set a new standard by pulling 12.5 percent of their plant's energy from solar and 50 percent from nuclear and hydropower from sites installed on the facility's property. This reduces the amount of dependency on coal-fired power plants and reduces resource waste.

Self-Driving Cars

Car companies are creating more eco-friendly vehicles, and one area of focus is subtracting the human element. Self-driving cars are set to hit the market this year. These driverless vehicles have the potential to be safer on the roads, as well as better for the environment than cars currently on the road.

Although manufacturers have designed vehicles with the potential of high fuel efficiency, they can't be sure that the drivers who purchase them are using them to their full potential. There is a discrepancy between tested miles per gallon by the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) and those that consumers actually experience -- about a 20 percent difference to be exact. According to a report in Access, "This 20 percent difference between the official CAFE number and actual mpg is caused by factors like US drivers' aggressive acceleration, idling time, high speeds on the highway, and accessory use."

By implementing self-driving cars, however, you can be sure the technology designed in the newer class of vehicles is being used to the best of its ability. With the technology's ability to brake efficiently and use optimal routes to get from destination to destination, the amount of fuel wasted can be reduced dramatically.

What This Means Moving Forward

If you have been thinking about changing careers, now would be the time to go back to school to become an environmental scientist. As awareness of the impacts of pollution and the need for environmental protection rises, jobs in sustainability and environmental health are increasing. The employment of environmental scientists is expected to grow by 11 percent over the next decade, making it one of the top public health jobs. It's not just careers in the hard sciences that will see growth: Environmental protection jobs, such as jobs in wildfire management and conservation, are also on the rise.

Even companies that have long been successful are hiring environmental scientists to help them to reach goals they have set for themselves to become a more sustainable company. With the need to reduce the environmental impact that passenger cars have on climate change, we will likely more advancements in sustainability in the auto industry. Hopefully, with these changes we can have cleaner air and a brighter future.

Posted by Magnolia at April 18, 2019 11:07 AM
Comments
Comment #441776

Except for self-driving cars, the auto industries’ efforts are too little too late. In recent days, two things have showed me how bad global warming has become. One is finding out that a good percentage of the population in the tropical zone have kidney disease caused by dehydration from working outdoors in places they were able to work comfortably two decades ago, providing food for us. The other was seeing the lack of snow, ice, and glaciers covering the Himalayas in satellite images. This is the third pole that weather patterns circulate around:

https://tibet.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/FNVA-Sikkim-Tibet-The-Third-Pole-the-Himalayas.pdf

https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/2019/01/09/ignoring-climate-change-in-the-himalayas/

That snow, ice and those glaciers are the water supply for billions of people.

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Even though she’s very optimistic about what we can do in the future, Miami is already under water.

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Comment #441970

There’s no doubt that almost 7.7 billion people (currently increasing by 235,000 per day) contribute to pollution and to global warming.
However, 7.7 Billion people require a LOT of energy, and ignoring over-population is ignoring the one thing that will exacerbate almost everything, all resource limits, arable acres of land per person, food production, farming, water resources, etc., etc., etc.
The world population doubled in 46 years from about 3.8 Billion in 1972 to about 7.6 Billion in 2018.
If the human population growth continues to grow exponentially, the world population could double again in less than 30 years, to over 15 Billion by year 2049.
Less advanced nations are using massive amounts of coal.
Today, about 24,641 people die per day (9 Million per year) due to starvation and starvation-related diseases, and world hunger is on the rise since 2016. Yet, the total human population still grows by 235,000 per day (85.8 Million per year), which includes all births minus all deaths, per day.

ohrealy wrote: Even though she’s [Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] very optimistic about what we can do in the future, Miami is already under water.
Sea levels have risen about 6-to-8 inches in the last 150 years.
Sea levels were higher 130,000 years ago.
Most of the time during the last 2 Billion years were much warmer than today.
Current temperatures are near the coldest temperatures over the last 2 Billion years (source: site2data.com/TemperatureHistory1.jpg).
Does this look like Miama, FL is underwater?
The problem with Florida is that the average elevation is only 6 feet.
Much (50%) of New Orleans, LA is below sea level, but that is because engineers accidentally sank New Orleans, LA. (starting in the late 1800s; soource: www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/02/how-humans-sank-new-orleans/552323/). Posted by: d.a.n at April 22, 2019 1:58 PM
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