Regardless of political leanings, maintaining and persevering the planet for future generations should be a universal priority. An important factor in preserving the earth is to limit the emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. While a concerted effort to curb emissions began in the 1970s, total carbon emissions have actually increased in recent years. The University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute believes that the best way to fight climate change is to drive fuel-efficient vehicles.
The burning of fossil fuels is one of the major sources of carbon dioxide emissions. When gas prices were soaring in 2008, the average vehicle in the United States was averaging approximately 20 MPG. In response to steep fuel prices, consumers flocked to fuel-efficient vehicles and the automotive industry increasingly made efficiency a priority. The average MPG of the American fleet continued to improve, until 2015, when the average MPG declined for the first time in years. Low gas prices spurred increased sales in trucks and SUVS and the average MPG of the American fleet suffered as a result.
The consequences of increased carbon emissions are wide-ranging. Rising emissions can have a profound effect on the environment, wildlife, human health, and even the economy. In their recent report, the University of Michigan outlines several ways to reduce our carbon footprint. By turning down the thermostat three degrees for eight hours a day, Americans can reduce total emissions by .2%. Other ways to curb emissions include replacing existing lightbulbs with LED bulbs and cutting down on food consumption and waste. Despite these helpful contributions, transportation remains the main agent of significant change. According to the report, “to achieve larger reductions in emissions—5 percent to 10 percent—there is only one realistic action that, by itself, would accomplish the goal. And that is driving a more-fuel efficient vehicle.”
Fuel-efficient vehicles provide a more environmentally friendly option, but the benefits of a gas sipping vehicle are financial as well. According to Consumer Reports, “Even during dips in gas prices, fuel-efficient vehicles can save consumers money, no matter what size of vehicle they are looking for, and are a smart hedge against the inevitable rise in gas prices.” In other words, driving a fuel-efficient vehicle can lessen the amount of pollution in the air while fattening your wallet.
A major reason for rising carbon emissions is economic growth. As the economy grows and more people find gainful employment, many newly hired employees will be driving to work. Economic growth is inherently positive and there are ways to encourage a thriving economy while also remaining mindful of climbing emissions. Going forward, fuel-efficient vehicles present the best option to keep carbon emissions low, regardless of the status of the economy or the price of fuel.