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Celebrating 50 years of Earth Day – Reducing Vehicle Emissions

Co-authors: Holly Abeels, Alicia Betancourt, and Dr. Ashley Smyth

April 22, 2020 is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. The theme for this year’s Earth Day is “climate action”. Climate change is the biggest challenge the world faces today. But it’s a challenge and issue we can solve together. Here are some resources and actions you can do to help combat climate change.

What You Can Do

Often the simplest things you can do are related to behaviors in your day to day life. Actions like reducing your water or energy use, reducing food waste, and cutting down on vehicle emissions all have an impact. This week we’ll take a look at actions you can start doing today. We’ve already looked at saving water and energy and reducing food waste. Today we’ll talk about cutting down on your greenhouse gas emissions. Cities and countries around the world have measured lower amounts of air pollution in recent months with less people driving on the roads. In just a short amount of time our air has become cleaner.

Part Four: Cut Down on Emissions

The average American drives 37 miles a day and averages 85 minutes each day behind the wheel. Transportation is the largest contributor of U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, accounting for about 29% of total GHG emissions. In Florida, transportation accounts for 48% of GHG emissions. For every gallon of gas saved, 20 pounds of carbon dioxide are kept out of the atmosphere. Reducing your travel by vehicle has a big impact on lower GHG emissions. Here are some tips to consider.

  • Carpooling cuts emissions at least in half, depending on how many people you fit in the car. The more, the better!
  • Choose the household’s most efficient vehicle each time you drive.
  • For shorter trips, leave the car at home and hop on a bike, a bus, or just walk for zero emissions, zero costs, and a breath of fresh air.
  • Combine errands when you go out to reduce the amount of trips you are taking.
  • Try to live close to where you work and shop to minimize transportation emissions.
  • Keeping vehicles well-tuned can increase fuel efficiency up to 40% especially if there are significant repairs needed.
  • Maintaining the recommended tire pressure can cut fuel use by 3%.
  • Use the recommended grade of oil for your car. This can save you 1-2% of fuel use.
  • When purchasing a vehicle, consider buying a used, fuel-efficient vehicle or one that can run on alternative fuels or electricity.
  • If buying new, consider fuel economy and alternative fuel options. By the most fuel-efficient vehicle possible, which usually means a smaller vehicle, hybrid vehicle, or even completely electric vehicle.
Websites to Follow

These are just some of the actions you can take to help personally adapt to climate change. Download and read the Climate Change Handbook: A Citizen’s Guide to Thoughtful Action for more personal actions you can take. Follow these websites for the latest information about climate change in the U.S. and in Florida.

National Climate Assessment – 4th Edition

NASA Global Climate Change – Vital Signs of the Planet

NOAA Climate.gov

Florida Sea Grant Climate Change Resources

Florida Climate Institute

FDEP Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection

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