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Warming

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Submitted By dma2004
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Global warming has been a rising concern and hot topics of debate for many years now of which vehicles are a major cause to the global warming affect. “By driving more efficient vehicles, oil imports can be cut, money can be saved, jobs can be created, and it can help with global warming”. (Easton, 2008) According to the CAFÉ standards, the technology exists to improve the fuel efficiency standards for new cars and trucks (Easton, 2008). There are some that will argue that the 1975 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) program failed to meet its goals of reducing oil imports and gasoline consumption, endangering human lives, and not helping with the global warming issue (Easton, 2008). Who’s right or wrong, or perhaps they are both right. “The United States spends more than $200,000 per minute on foreign oil that is $13 million per hour” (White, 2004). America burns 8 million barrels of oil every day just to fuel our cars, SUVs, and trucks (White, 2004). America’s dependence on oil is a threat to our environment. The new law, Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) standards, is to regulate the average fuel economy in the vehicles produced by each major automaker (Fairley, 2008). The first CAFÉ standard for cars, in 1984, requested manufacturers to achieve an average of 27.5 miles per gallon (Fairley, 2008). The second CAFÉ standard requested an average of 22.2 miles per gallon for light trucks such as minivans, sport utility vehicles, and pickups (Fairley, 2008). These standards will be increased such that by 2020, the new cars and light trucks sold each year will deliver a combined fleet average of 35 miles per gallon (Fairley, 2008). “Raising fuel economy by ten miles per gallon nationwide will deliver real benefits” (Fairley, 2008). Some scientists have estimated that it will save 1.1 million barrels of oil per day in 2020 (Fairley, 2008). That is half of what the United States imports from the Persian Gulf (Fairley, 2008). Translated into money, this equals savings of $30 billion for citizens if gas prices are $2.25/gal. If gas goes to $4 a gallon, the new standards will save $70 billion (Fairley, 2008). Also, it should deliver a reduction in greenhouse gases equivalent to taking 28 million of today’s cars and trucks off the road (Fairley, 2008). Money has always been an issue for centuries now. We are always looking for ways to save money, but always seem to find ways to spend more. With fuel economy standards, billions of dollars can be saved. For instance, fuel economies standards help reduce the amount of gasoline consumers’ use in their traveling (McMahon, 2009). By spending less on gasoline, there will be more money to spend on other things. Also, the savings from buying a more fuel-efficient vehicle can offset the added cost of technology in less than a year by using technologies that are already available and manufacturing vehicles that achieve the CAFÉ standards (McMahon, 2009). CAFÉ standards already save consumers money at the gas pump. Because fuel economy for cars doubled between 1975 and the late 1980s, a new car purchaser saves thousands of dollars at the gas pump over the life time of the car (White, 2004). For example, making the Ford Explorer go from 19 miles per gallon to 34 miles per gallon would cost $935 in technology, but would save the owner $790 each year on gas (White, 2004). By raising CAFÉ standards for new cars, SUVs and other light trucks to 40 miles per gallon over the next ten years will save consumers $16 billion annually by 2012 (Fairley, 2008). When regulatory standards combine with market based approaches, it will increase the cost of meeting an environmental goal (Johansson, 2003). People have been loosing their jobs all over the country for a while now, and it is time to do something about it. The fuel economy standards require regulatory agencies, which can fill jobs (McMahon, 2009). “In addition, creating more fuel-efficient vehicles requires innovation by auto-makers, which stimulates action and jobs in the industry” (McMahon, 2009). The CAFÉ standards would increase jobs by saving money spent on oil, much of which is from overseas and plowing it into other purchases, including cars (Fumento, 1992). The money the consumers are saving can be spent at home, rather than sending it overseas to oil producing nations, thus stimulating our economy, improving wages, and creating jobs (McMahon, 2009). “For this reason, it says 1.1 million new jobs could be created by 2010, including many in the auto industry” (Fumento, 1992). Global warming is the main concern of many. Carbon dioxide is by far the most important cause of anthropogenic climate change (Cunningham & Cunningham, 2008). “Burning fossil fuels, making cement, burning forests and grasslands, and other human activities release more than 33 billion tons of CO2 every year, on average containing some 9 billion tons of carbon” (Cunningham & Cunningham, 2008, p.213).”Carbon dioxide emissions from our cars and trucks add to the CO2 blanket around the earth, which prevents heat from leaving the atmosphere, causing global warming” (McMahon, 2009). “America’s cars and trucks alone emit more CO2 than all but four countries in the world, the United States as a whole, China, Russia, and Japan” (McMahon, 2009). With each gallon of gasoline burned, pumps 28 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere, so the more efficient the vehicle, the lower the CO2 emissions (McMahon, 2009). There is no doubt that global warming will be expensive, but we can start with our vehicles to make a difference. CAFÉ standards will help the average car burn less gasoline, and emit less CO2 into the atmosphere (McMahon, 2009). The net effect is a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, which lowers the net human contribution to global warming. By reducing emissions, it is important to consider how fuel economy standards will improve air quality and public health, particularly in metropolitan areas. On the other hand, there have been arguments that the CAFÉ program failed to meet its goals of reducing oil imports and gasoline consumption (Easton, 2008). While they are arguing that increasing miles per gallon will reduce gas consumption, they fail to realize the “rebound effect,” which is greater energy efficiency leads to greater energy consumption (Easton, 2008). “A recent article in The Wall Street Journal noted that in the 19th century, British economist Stanley Jevons found that coal consumption initially decreased by one-third after James Watts new efficient steam engine began replacing older, more energy-hungry engines” (Easton, 2008, p.202). During the ensuing years (1830-1863), consumption increased tenfold, the engines were cheaper to run, so they were used more often than the older, less efficient models (Easton, 2008). This just goes to show that greater efficiency produced more energy use, and not less (Easton, 2008). This applies to the CAFÉ standards as well. A more fuel-efficient vehicle costs less to drive per mile, so vehicle mileage increases. “Since 1970, the United States has made cars about 50% more efficient; in that period of time, the average number of miles a person drives has doubled” (Easton, 2008, p. 202). With this being said, fuel economy standards will not help reduce the amount of oil consumed, nor the amount of oil imported from abroad, so it will not strengthen energy independence. Furthermore, there is evidence that CAFÉ standards have resulted in more highway deaths (Easton, 2008). “A 1999 USE TODAY analysis of crash data and estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that, in the years since CAFÉ standards were mandated under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, about 46,000 people have died in crashes that they would have survived if they had been traveling in bigger, heavier cars” (Easton, 2008, p. 201). This translates into 7,700 deaths for every mile per gallon gained by the standards (Easton, 2008). The CAFÉ standards do not mandate that manufacturers make small cars, but they have had a significant effect on the designs manufacturers adopt generally, the weights of passenger vehicles have been falling (Easton, 2008). The most affordable way for automakers to meet the CAFÉ standards, is to produce smaller, light weight vehicles than can perform satisfactorily using low-power, fuel efficient engines (Easton, 2008). Many researchers have established that drivers of larger, heavier cars have lower risks in crashes than do drivers in smaller, lighter cars (McMahon, 2009). In 2000, Leonard Evans did a study which found that adding a passenger to one of two identical cars involved in a two-car frontal crash reduces the driver fatality risk by 7.5 percent (Easton, 2008). “If the cars differ in mass by more than a passenger’s weight, adding a passenger to the lighter car will reduce total risk” (Easton, 2008, p. 201). In addition to Evans findings, a 1989 study done by economist, Robert Crandall, of the Brookings Institution and John Graham of the Harvard School of Public Health, found that the weight of the average American automobile has been reduced 23 percent since 1974, which is due to the CAFÉ regulations (Easton, 2008). In their findings, Crandall and Graham stated that, “the negative relationship between weight and occupant fatality risk is one of the most secure findings in the safety literature” (Easton, 2008). Time is long overdue for policymakers to stop defending the failed CAFÉ program and start valuing human lives by repealing the standards. It is incorrect that proponents of higher CAFÉ standards contend that increasing fuel economy requirements for new cars and trucks will improve the environment by causing less pollution (Easton, 2008). Federal regulations impose emissions standards for cars and light trucks, respectively.” “These standards are identical for every car or light truck in those classes regardless of their fuel economy.” These limits are stated in grains per mile of acceptable pollution, not in grams per gallon of fuel burned.” “Accordingly, a Lincoln Town Car with a V-8 engine may not by law emit more emissions in a mile, or 10 miles, or 1,000 miles, than a Chevrolet Metro with a three-cylinder engine” (Easton, 2008, p. 202). “Improvements in vehicle fuel economy will have indirect environmental impacts” (Easton, 2008, p. 203). For instance, replacing the cast iron and steel components for vehicles with lighter weight materials such as aluminum, plastics, or composites, may reduce fuel consumption but would generate a different set of environmental impacts, as well as results in different kinds of indirect energy consumption (Easton, 2008). Cars and light trucks that are subject to fuel economy standards make only 1.5 percent of all global man-made greenhouse gas emissions (Easton, 2008). “According to data published in 1991 by the Office of Technology Assessment, a 40 percent increase in fuel economy standards would reduce greenhouse emissions by only about 0.5 percent, even under the most optimistic assumptions” (Easton, 2008, p. 203). The NRC also noted that greenhouse gas emissions from the production of substitute materials, such as aluminum, could substantially offset decreases of those emissions achieved through improved fuel economy (Easton, 2008). With that being said, our vehicles are the least of our worries when it comes to global warming. We should put our interests in other places in order to control global warming. In conclusion, global warming is a concern we all have. We have to start somewhere to try and correct the problem, and maybe starting with our vehicles is a great start. The CAFÉ standard sounds like a great plan to cut the oil imports, save consumers money and stimulate the economy, create jobs, and help with the global warming issue. But, there are some that would agree that the CAFÉ standards have failed to achieve its goals. Both oil imports and gasoline consumption have increased under the CAFÉ standards. Also, lives have been lost that could have survived car crashes in heavier vehicles and it has not done anything for the global warming situation. So, who do we believe? I guess we will have to be our own judge on this matter.

References
Cunningham, W.P. and Cunningham, M.A. (2008). Principles of Environmental Science: Inquiry and Applications (Custom 5th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Easton, T. (2008). Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Environment Issues. (Custom 13th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Fairley, P. (2008). Fuel Standards will likely be achievable but won’t encourage innovation. Retrieved March 27, 2010, from http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/20067/

Fumento, M. (1992). The High Cost of Cleaner Cars Fuel Economy Rules will cut Job, Raise Prices. Retrieved March 28, 2010, from http://fumento.com/cleancarcost.html

Johansson, R. (2003). How Regulatory Standards Can Affect a Cap-and Trade Program for Greenhouse Gases. Retrieved March, 28, 2010, from http://www.cho.gov/ftpdocs/105xx/

McMahon, R. (2009). Debate: Vehicle Fuel Economy Standards. Retrieved March, 27, 2010, From http://debatepedia.idebate.org/en/index.php/Debate_Vehicle_fuel_economy_standards

White, D. (2004). Safe, Strong and Secure: Reducing America’s Oil Dependence. Retrieved March 27, 2010, from http://www.nrdc.org/air/transportation/aoilpolicy2.asp

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