Just this April, the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii has recorded that the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide has averaged above 410 parts per million. That’s approaching near Pliocene Era heat levels.
It’s also very alarming.
Back when the world first crossed the carbon threshold in 2016, climate scientists were already sounding the alarm. The increasing concentration of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere are driving drastic climate changes, from rising sea levels to extreme droughts, from coastal flooding to coral reef extinction. If the carbon levels continue to rise, scientists warned, it is unlikely that the planet will be able to recover from the effects of climate change.
Transportation and Global Warming
The tragic part of this situation is that human activities are largely responsible for the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide due to our dependence on fossil fuel. Here in America, the transportation sector generates the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions. This is because gasoline and diesel, which we use for fuel, is petroleum based.
When our car burns gasoline or diesel in order to run, it emits carbon which stays in the atmosphere. In fact, our combined vehicle emission is responsible for about a third of America’s climate changing emissions.
And it’s not just land transport. Airplanes and sea vessels also produce a large portion of the world’s greenhouse gases. Not only that, they also produce by-products that also worsen global warming. Airplane exhaust contains nitrogen oxides which when released at high elevation causes warming. Meanwhile ships, while releasing almost 3 percent of the world’s CO2, also produce nitrous oxide and black carbon.
What are these Greenhouse Gases?
There are four greenhouse gases that are emitted in significant quantities due to human-related activities. These are:
● Carbon Dioxide (CO2) - Along with water vapor, carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring greenhouse gas. This means that it’s part of the carbon cycle where carbon is naturally exchanged between the earth’s zones. Humans, however, have increased atmospheric carbon dioxide massively by burning fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil and by deforestation. It now accounts for three-quarters of the warming impact of greenhouse gas emissions.
● Methane (CH4) – Also a naturally occurring greenhouse gas, methane makes up 90% of natural gas. Other natural sources of methane include the decay of organic matter in wetlands and farmlands. Atmospheric methane absorbs heat more effectively than carbon dioxide which is why it’s more dangerous even in small concentrations. The expansion of corporate agricultural farms, landfills and the oil and gas industries have increased atmospheric methane levels, now accounting for 14% of the warming impact globally.
● Nitrous Oxide (N2O) – An even more potent greenhouse gas than methane, nitrous oxide is what we commonly call as laughing gas. It’s nothing to laugh at though; it absorbs more heat than methane and lasts for more than a century before it breaks down naturally. The increase in atmospheric nitrous oxide is attributed to the wide spread use of nitrogen-based fertilizers. It now accounts for 8% of the warming impact of current human greenhouse-gas emissions.
● HFCs, PFCs, SF6 – These trio of gases are known as industrial greenhouse gases because they are not emitted naturally but are rather created from industrial sources like manufacturing, mining and other industry-related activities.
Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are chemicals used for refrigeration and cooling systems. Developed as an alternative to CFCs which destroy the ozone layer, HFCs are powerful compounds which absorb heat a thousand times greater than that of carbon dioxide per unit of mass.
Perfluorocarbons (PFCs), meanwhile, are mainly used in the electronics industry. It’s a toxic compound and while it’s only released in small amounts to the atmosphere, it has extremely high global warming potential- around 5,000-10,000 times that of carbon dioxide.
Sulfur Hexafluoride (SF6)- The most potent of the three, SF6 is used in the semiconductor industry. It is odorless, colorless and non-toxic but when it breaks down, it releases toxic-by products. It’s the most potent of all industrial greenhouse gases, with a global warming potential of 22,200 times that of CO2 over a 100-year period.
With more peak torque and better fuel efficiency, this is not only a good green choice for anyone seeking to lower their carbon footprint, but it’s also a smart one.
— Derek Dodds, Wave Tribe Founder
Reducing Carbon Footprint
As a surfer, all these facts are a grim reminder that there is still a lot to be done in terms of scaling down global greenhouse emissions. While there are some of us who are doing their bit for the environment by producing sustainable and ecologically friendly surfwear and gear or regularly participating in coastal clean-ups, it’s still easy to lose sight of the everyday picture. That even as we go on long road trips to check out various surfing spots, we end up contributing to the rise in global warming gases.
Green Surf Mobiles
Lucky for us, the improvements in car technology over the years have resulted in some pretty cool vehicles that have better gas mileage while producing lower emissions. Ideally, we’d love to have some anti-grav cars but since they’re still a practical impossibility at this time, we’d settle for something that can stylishly fit a surfing board while being fuel efficient and affordable. Here are some of this year’s car models worth checking out.
● Tesla Model X 75D
First on this list is Tesla’s mid-sized electric SUV. It has zero carbon emission because it doesn’t use fossil fuel. Its lithium ion 75-kWH battery is good for about 380 kilometers of range and can hit 100 km/h in just 5.2 seconds. It can also seat five passengers. Check this link to see more.
● Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier
It’s a subcompact electric car that is affordable and practical with a long driving range. It has a powerful electric motor with a large battery that can charge up quickly. It can seat four adults and has cargo-hauling capability with active safety features. Check this link to see more.
● Nissan Leaf SL
This is a second generation compact vehicle, having been completely redesigned to include a more powerful electric motor, a longer driving range, and more technology.
Its 40kWH battery pack powers an electric motor that has a driving range of 150 miles. It has new safety features like the e-Pedal, a one-pedal regenerative braking driving system. Check this linkto see more.
● Tesla Model X 75D
This electric SUV/Minivan is built for efficiency, with a Dual Motor All Wheel Drive and the quickest acceleration of any SUV – from 0 to 60 mph in just 2.9 seconds.
It can seat 7 persons with fold-flat seats so that you can use the vehicle to transport your cargo whenever you go surfing. Check this link to see more.
● Kia Niro LX
This hybrid SUV is the best under $30K category. It has the best gas mileage for its class, with seats that provide plenty of room. The vehicle also has more cargo space compared to its rivals. Check this linkto see more.
● Toyota Prius
Continuing its reputation as a leader in the hybrid vehicle category, the latest version brings more technologies like the Enhanced Parking Support system. It also has a larger cargo capacity since it can now carry up to 65.5 cu. ft. IMHO, it’s the ideal vehicle for the intrepid surfer.
Since the release of its original model, the Prius has estimated to have reduced 11,794,335 tons of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere. And it continues to do so with every model released into the market. Now that’s a clincher. Check this linkto see more.
● BMW 530e Plug-In Hybrid
This latest version of the BMW 5 series is an 8-speed automatic with a manual shifting mode. It can run to about 30 miles using its lithium ion battery, with speeds up to 87 mph.
It comes in five settings which allows one to chose the rate and readiness of the gas engine’s involvement. With more peak torque and better fuel efficiency, this is not only a good green choice for anyone seeking to lower their carbon footprint, but it’s also a smart one. Check this link to see more.
However, if you’re not interested in buying a new car, that doesn’t mean that you can’t put in your own share of protecting your environment. Regular maintenance is the key here. If your car is a hybrid, make sure that it is worked on by certified hybrid vehicle repair technicians in order to ensure that it’s still going to continue functioning well along its specifications.
If you have a guzzler for a car, you can get better gas mileage out of it by making sure that the engine is properly tuned, tires are properly inflated and the motor oil used is the one the manufacturer recommended. This way, you’ll get to ensure a great performance from the engine and while that’s not going to stop the carbon emissions, at least you will able to prevent it from getting worse. Every little bit helps.