Climate Change and Transportation (Final Version)

(I don’t know why I update the old version but the content just disappeared… twice… so I’m trying to publish a new post)

In the contemporary society, transportation has becoming an important part that people cannot live without. Everyday people take streetcars, buses or subway going for class, movies, shopping, etc. The development of transportation had obviously improved the living conditions. However, as the climate is changing rapidly, abnormal phenomena such as the warm winter in Toronto this year make people start to concern about the health of our earth. Is 2012 a true story? This is a hot topic discussed by people these years.

It is undeniable that climate change and transportation are closely linked. After the great invention of airplane by Wright brothers and the first affordable car manufactured by Ford, the popularity of automobile is increasing rapidly. Nevertheless, almost all means of transportation uses fuel such as gasoline. When burning gasoline, a large number of  carbon dioxide, one of the main greenhouse gases, is released to the atmosphere, results in the rise of temperature (see article The other climate threat: transportation).

The amount of carbon dioxide emissions is increasing annually everywhere in the world.The data (from Wikipedia) shows that: on 2008, the annual carbon dioxide emissions of the whole world is 29,888,121 thousand tons. According to this data, the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Centre (CDIAC) estimates that in 2010, the number will increase to 33,508,901 thousand tons.

This data table also shows the rank of the countries in the amount of carbon dioxide emissions, with their percentage of global total. With the largest population in the world, China’s released 23.33% carbon dioxide of the whole world, higher than the United States, which ranked 2nd with 18.11%. One of the main reasons that lead to their high rank is, there are huge amount of automobile in both the two countries. Only a small amount of people in the United States are without driver’s license, and because the large population base and the increasing GDP, the amount of cars in China increases the fastest all over the world.

However, the relationship between transportation and climate change is not just from one side. On the contrary, climate change also negatively impacts transportation. Actually, though the Beijing Municipal Government is trying to deal with the pollution by controlling the traffic flow, they are still facing so many difficulties. As BBC reported, Beijing’s air quality is getting worse and worse these year. Since November 2011, Beijing and its surrounding areas are usually shrouded in fog. Sometimes the visibility is only several meters. Cars cannot move at the regular speed, traffic jams are everywhere in Beijing, and the amount of car accidents rises sharply. Airplanes cannot take off in such weather, thousands of passengers are stranded at the airport. And because of the abnormal climate, Beijing suffered the largest percipitation in the last decades of years, all the roads, even the subway stations are flooded, influenced the transportation in Beijing severely.

Transportation is affecting climate change, and the climate change also have negative feedback on transportation. Recent years, almost all the motor companies are creating their own environmental friendly cars, aiming at reducing the carbon dioxide emissions. On the one hand,these ‘green cars’ are using new discovered fuels, reduced the amount of oil use and emissions; on the other hand, the motor companies must keep their competitiveness because fuel-efficient cars are the development trends of the automobile market. The website Clean Green Cars introduces lots of newly published ‘green cars’ from big motor companies such as Toyota and Ford. How to develop transportation in a ‘green’ way is an essential issue that is being discussed now, and will still be discussed at least ten or twenty years in the future.

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