Motoring and Pollution
A LETHAL COMBINATION
CARS AND POLLUTION GO HAND IN HAND. GLOBALLY, THE MILLIONS OF VEHICLES OF ALL TYPES COMBINED WITH THE FACTORIES AND MACHINERY THAT PRODUCE THEM, ACCOUNT FOR BEING AMONG THE TOP THREE GLOBAL POLLUTANTS. WHILE THE MOTOR INDUSTRY HAS BEEN HARD AT WORK REDUCING HARMFUL POLLUTION THROUGH A STRATEGY OF ELECTRIFICATION AND HYBRIDISATION, IT WILL STILL TAKE A WHILE BEFORE OUR GRANDCHILDREN CAN BOAST ABOUT A POLLUTION-FREE MOTORING EXPERIENCE.
One of the most significant strides in reducing motoring pollution in the last century has been the worldwide switch from leaded to unleaded fuel. However, it must be remembered that unleaded fuel, too is not entirely clean. Besides, whatever gains the industry may have made in reducing noxious pollution, have been negated by the sheer increase in vehicle volumes today compared to two decades ago.
It is estimated that motor vehicles are responsible for more than 50% of carbon monoxide contamination of the air, which is also a major contributor to global warming. Motor vehicles also contribute around 30% of nitrous oxide and other lethal compounds that pollute the environment.
Adding to the problem, not all scrap metal from redundant vehicles will be recycled, while most plastics, foam, and rubber are not biodegradable. Not to mention how unsightly scrap yards can be, and how they contribute to the decay of the natural environment. Leaking oil contributes significantly to the pollution of our groundwater, while rubber from discarded tyres can often not be recycled sufficiently.
Sadly, both developed and developing countries are responsible for the pollution problem, with industrial countries being the biggest culprits. While progress to resolve some of these issues has been encouraging in developed countries, high traffic volumes in these nations still have a massive impact on environmental pollution, while poor conditions and old technology in developing countries add to the harmful situation.
What about noise pollution? Unregulated and poor enforcement has seen unacceptable noise levels from noisy cars, and heavy trucks and motorcycles, with continued exposure, can lead to severe hearing difficulties.
What can the ordinary motorist do to alleviate the problem of pollution? Travel less. Easier said than done? Yes, it can be done. Plan your travels carefully, combining some trips and if possible, take a walk or cycle where it is safe.
• Make sure that your vehicle is serviced
regularly using quality lubricants and diligently following the manufacturer’s service schedules
• When buying a new car, choose one that is as fuel-efficient as possible. Many manufacturers display these figures as part of a car’s overall performance numbers and the lower the emission figure, the better.
• Avoid idling unnecessarily. Commercial vehicles are especially guilty of this. Keeping the truck, bus or bakkie idling waiting to warm up the engine or while waiting to load or off-load freight and passengers is not only wasteful and leads to increased fuel usage, but is also harmful to the environment.
• Drive within the speed limit and reduce operational costs and unnecessary wear and tear. It is often said, it is not just the type of car, but a driver’s driving style that can determine the safety and efficient use of a vehicle, which can lead to lowered stress levels, greater law compliance, less trauma and reduced costs, which is a win-win situation for all.