A gallon of gasoline weighs just over 6 pounds. When burned, the carbon in it combines with oxygen from the air to produce nearly 20 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2). By switching from a gas guzzler to a hybrid, you can literally save the earth a couple of tons of greenhouse gases.
- U.S. cars and light trucks together consume 8.2 million barrels of oil each day. This translates to more than 300 million metric tons of carbon that comes from our cars and trucks every year.
- Our transportation CO2 emissions are the largest source (about one-third) of our CO2 emissions, more than factories, homes, and all other sources.
- According to Environmental Defense, over the past decade and a half, all auto companies have increased their carbon burden by some degree or another. GM is the biggest global warmer, but Prius-producing Toyota has increased its output at an even higher rate.
What effect could global warming have on the world?
We can heed these warning signs and frightening forecasts—or we can wait until the problems become even more difficult to handle.
- Arctic ice is thinning and Antarctic ice shelves are breaking up faster. Sea levels are rising. Global warming could increase the number of people affected by flooding by 20 – 50 million people.
- Ranges of disease-carrying mosquitoes have spread, carrying malaria, dengue fever, and other diseases.
- Spring comes earlier, fall later, and the growing season has become longer and warmer; agricultural output in poorer countries could be significantly reduced, putting 80 – 90 million poor people at risk of hunger and malnutrition later in the 21st century.
- Large cities in the U.S. may experience, on average, several hundred extra deaths per summer.
- Temperature changes have caused declines in the range and survival of some plant and animal species; entire ecosystems may be lost and others severely impacted.
- According to a 2004 Pentagon report (not an environmental organization), abrupt global climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries fight to defend and secure dwindling food, water, and energy supplies.
If fuel economy were improved by 5 mpg, American consumers would save 1.5 million barrels of oil per day. Moving the world’s drivers to more fuel-efficient automotive technology, such as hybrid cars and alternative fuel vehicles, could be one part of a comprehensive strategy to mitigate global warming and its effects.