Making the most of the break to help our planet
The fact that the world needed a rest has really hit home. During the last year we paused, and stopped using cars regularly or travelling, among many other things. You could say that we gave nature a breather
We stopped and the environment came into its own, in cities where smog was part of the natural view could appreciate sunny days and even brighter colours, hidden animals that had fled human predators and noisy traffic cutting across their habitats ventured out again.
In a matter of three weeks mother nature reminded us that she continues to be a fundamental part of our lives and not just for a group that has been fighting for years to demonstrate the harm we cause on a daily basis by using petrol vehicles or that we should recycle to stop this damage.
Not even natural disasters caused by serious climate changes have been effective in making us internalise just how we need to adjust our routines so that we can live together, and so that we have a planet to leave our children.
We need to move around – mobility is an essential part of our lives, we have to travel from home to work and back, take children to school, visit our relatives and even to see a film you need to go to the cinema.
But should we be doing this all in our cars?
The answer is no, there are many alternatives that can get us to where we want without needing to use a polluting vehicle.
Transport such as cars, buses and trucks are responsible for 30% of the carbon dioxide emissions in the world, given that most of the energy used comes from oil-based fossil fuels.
Last May we surpassed the monthly average of 414ppm -parts per million of carbon dioxide. The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere keeps growing and car manufacturers are making it increasingly difficult to be able to say no.
Scripps Institution of Oceanography provides a graph that allows us to learn the daily figure of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This measurement is known as The Keeling Curve Graph.
After having given nature and the atmosphere its well-deserved rest, you may well think that the levels of CO2 dropped and that everything is going to continue as it has during this compulsory break.
You may feel a little relieved by thinking that the drop in the levels of carbon dioxide means a reversal in atmospheric pollution, but Ralph Keeling indicates that for there to be a real recovery in emissions, it must drop by at least 10% and stay at that level for at least one whole year.
Nevertheless, China has reduced its emissions by 25% since the start of lockdown which represents 6% for the world count.
In the past, or at least over the last 61 years that the Scripps Institute has been using the Keeling scale, no event has occurred which has marked a reduction in contamination due to fossil fuels. Generally, once global activity starts up again, the CO2 levels will return to levels seen before.
Have we resigned ourselves to being responsible for the depletion of the planet? Are we that selfish and incapable of change?
We refuse to believe that and lose hope, and that is why we are seeking options that can allow us to be mobile in a sustainable way.
There are many alternatives for satisfying the need to move around without having to use a fossil-fuelled vehicle, there are even options that are beneficial to our physical health.
To make a positive impact, we have to each make the effort, which combine to become a whole—individual decisions can stop the consumption of millions of litres of fuel and large volumes of greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere.
Here are some simple tips to follow to do your bit and be efficiently and sustainably mobile.
- Using public transport is an alternative to time-consuming or long-distance journeys. Compared to private vehicles they cause 70% less pollution, especially considering that they can also transport more people at a time.
- For short journeys, you could see it as a way to do exercise and either walk or use a bicycle and kill two birds with one stone -in addition during the last months we’ve begun to talk about the 15’ cities, something we will address in Komoneed shortly.
- Car-sharing with colleagues on your commute to work is a sustainable alternative and helps reduce traffic which as you know can be heavy in many cities in the world.
If there is no other alternative to using the car you can learn to drive efficiently, which helps to consume less fuel and basically consists of keeping within the speed limits. If your vehicle is a diesel, it is recommended that you drive between 1,500 and 2,000 revolutions a minute, and between 2,000 and 2,500 if your vehicle has a petrol engine. Try not to accelerate or brake sharply; driving smoothly is an efficient way to drive.
Trains are the most efficient form of transport compared to others as they generate less contaminating gas emissions per passenger. They are also fast, for some journeys it can almost be as fast to travel by train as it is to travel by plane.
Electric motorcycles, bicycles, cars, vans and buses are an alternative to traditional motor vehicles but have the advantage of not generating carbon dioxide emissions and they make hardly any noise. The number of recharging points for this type of vehicle is increasing as are the number of new models to choose from.
The goal is for more of us to say no to harming nature so that the few that are left have no choice but to change.
- Greenpeace | How car companies are speeding us towards a climate crash
- European Commission | Urban mobility and accessibility