Anyone living in a major urban city knows just how many cars are on the road today. In 2007, there were an estimated 800 million cars and light trucks on the road worldwide; now considering that together all these automobiles use around 984 billion litres of gasoline, and every litre emits about 2.3 kilograms of carbon dioxide, and you get a pretty clear idea of just how damaging automobiles can be to the environment. That said, to do away with automobiles is simply out of the question in today's society, so what can we do? There are several myths about what we can do to help, some of which are helpful, and some that are just full of hot air.
One of the more popular is the 17 trees myth, the idea that if you plant seventeen trees a year, they will absorb the amount of carbon dioxide your car puts into the atmosphere. While the mathematics on this are accurate, they do not take into account the amount of CO2 used to extract the fuel you use, nor does it account for the amount of trees lost every year to deforestation and wildfire. While it certainly helps to plant those seventeen trees a year, it won't offset the problem completely. Until someone realistically wins the green car sweepstakes, the best thing we can do is simply drive as little as possible.
Another myth is that the hybrid car will curb the carbon automobiles put into the air. Again, this myth is in part true, but ignores certain facts: while cleaner engines do cut the amount of emissions produced, by having these engines consumers are encouraged to drive more, thereby offsetting any positive effects the engines may have had. Though it is a positive change to see more hybrids in auto dealer supply these days, the fact remains that the only way to cut carbon emissions is to simply drive less; take the bus, ride a bike, or simply walk more often. If you don't need to drive, save your fuel and your money, and you'll reduce your carbon footprint by doing so. Not only that, it might save you a few trips to your London auto body shop for valve repair!
In the long run, the development of greater urban public transportation, greener housing and energy policies, and a strong commitment from both government and consumers is what will help us curb our carbon emitting ways. Until we can commit to changing our way of life as a whole, the problems we have created will not go away. So invest in greener real estate, unplug your appliances when they're not in use, recycle everything you can as often as possible, and walk or take the bus whenever you can. If we all do our part, we really can make an effective change to the environment.