Earth Matters by Jacqueline Milner – Our Cars and Carbon – Happy Thanksgiving! October 6, 2011

Earth Matters by Jacqueline Milner – Our Cars and Carbon – Happy Thanksgiving! October 6, 2011
CFN – My driver’s license is soon to expire and as such it was necessary for me to review the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario Drivers Manual in preparation for the written portion of the licensing requirements.
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Much to my surprise and delight there was information in the manual specifically addressing how passenger vehicles impact the environment and what we can do as drivers to reduce the pollutants and gases these vehicles emit into our environment.  Now it is understood that many of you have been exposed to this information before however as each driver is  required to review the laws of the road to renew their license there is wisdom in reacquainting ourselves with information that when put into practice benefits ourselves and community.
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It might surprise you to know that approximately half of the carbon dioxide produced by transport vehicles is from personal use cars.Our vehicles run on gas and diesel fuel and products from this fuel consumption excrete air pollutants and gases that adversely affect the quality of our air, our health, crop yields and as we know too well, our global climate.  Some of the byproducts of this fuel usage also react with sunlight which produces smog.  Smog is a major concern for those with respiratory illnesses.
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Byproduct of combustible fuel usage also mixes with water vapour to form acid rain which adversely affects the life of our lakes, forests and crops.  The manual makes reference to Global warming being the result of too much carbon dioxide and other gases trapping heat in our atmosphere.  This rise in temperature is suspected to cause average temperatures to rise, lower water levels and more frequent and severe storms.  Passenger vehicles are responsible for nearly half of the carbon dioxide pumped into our atmosphere.  So what can we do?  As a driver there are many things we can do to limit the effect we have on the environment, ourselves and in so doing keep a little more of our dollars in our pocket.

Before getting into the car combine several tasks in one trip and think about carpooling with a friend or family member.  Consider how you can avoid peak traffic times in your area.  This will eliminate time spent in stop and go traffic thereby saving fuel and frustration.  For short trips consider the dollar savings, wear and tear on your car and infrastructure and the added bonus of health by walking or riding your bike.  For longer trips consider using Social networks to either share your vehicle in a carpool or take part in a carpool to major centers around your home base.When driving consider the fuel savings and the pollutants you will eliminate by turning off your vehicle if you are parked more than 10 seconds.  Obey the speed limits as driving faster uses more fuel.  On the highway, it is suggested use of your cruise control is advisable for better fuel economy.  Remove unnecessary weight in or on the car as increased weight requires additional fuel to move.  Eliminate friction thereby increasing fuel economy by removing loads on the roof or truck such as ski racks or kayak racks when they are not being used.Regular car maintenance is recommended to save wear and tear on your vehicle, save fuel and reduce emissions.  Regular scheduled maintenance will keep your car running at maximum efficiency.  Keep the engine tuned.  Worn spark plugs, dragging brakes and low fluid levels can increase your fuel consumption significantly.  Have any fluid leaks checked to maintain engine performance and environmental health.  Properly inflated tires reduce tire wear, fuel consumption and emissions.  Proper vehicle alignment also reduces uneven tire wear and fuel consumption.

When you want a coffee or burger on the go skip the long line-ups and waste of fuel; park the car and walk in to the establishment to place and receive your order.  I’ve seen some of the line-ups at these “stop and go” throughs.    If you have the physicality to get yourself into the store, please do so for your own health, that of your pocket book and that of our community.

We would like to take this moment to wish our readers celebrating Thanksgiving a time filled with warmth and laughter.   Your commentary is encouraged and always welcome below or to earthmatters@cornwallfreenews.com

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