Carpooling anyone?

Driving is an essential part of several people’s days, including my own. We drive to get anywhere, from school, to work, to the store. More times than not, the places we are going are in walking or biking distance, but we still choose to drive out of convenience. In fact more times than not my family will drive to church which we actually live quite close to, usually because we would be late if we walked.

While driving is very convenient and reduces the amount of time it takes to get where you need to be, it’s also not that great for the environment. Our cars, trucks and vans give off carbon dioxide every time we drive them. On average a car will give off six tons of carbon dioxide per year. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and it contributes to the greenhouse effect. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the greenhouse effect, let me explain. The atmosphere is full of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and water vapor. As energy from the sun bounces off the earth, it is trapped in the atmosphere by these gases. This effect is a natural thing that is essential to life on earth. Without it, the earth would be much too cold to support life. However, humans have added an excess amount of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, making the earth warmer than it needs to be. This is global warming.

There are lots of ways we can decrease our impact on global warming, but one of the biggest ways would be to change our driving habits. Of course we can always decrease the amount of time we spend driving by choosing to walk or bike instead. There are also cars out there such as a hybrid that gets better fuel mileage, or a hydrogen fuel cell car that does not give off harmful emissions. Another obvious way to decrease our driving impact would be to carpool. I had definitely heard of carpooling before, and I even do it a lot, but I was very interested to find that in some places, usually large, busy cities, there are specific lanes on the road specifically set aside for those who carpool. These are called High Occupancy Vehicle or HOV lanes, and they usually require 2-3 passengers per vehicle. Although my city doesn’t have them, HOV lanes seem to be beneficial. The system provides an incentive for people to carpool. During hours of heavy traffic, HOV lanes can be much quicker. This is only one example of how making change to benefit the environment will also provide advantages to the those who partake.
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