As time is slipping by, it has become quite obvious that we are experiencing more extreme weather than we did as kids. Records broken daily with drought, flash flooding, and fires are becoming the “new normal.” Apathy, invited by a sense of quiet desperation and powerlessness, has numbed our ability to conceive of solutions that can and must set the world on a new trajectory.
But there is hope when we choose to focus into positive action. Action is worth much more than words, as the old cliché goes. And what better way to do your part than actually getting involved with the numerous climate-related tasks that are needed on the local, state and federal levels?
One of the ways we can reduce our carbon footprint is to support the EPA in adopting zero emissions for trucks and buses by 2035. The goal would be to replicate California’s new plan to limit sales of fossil fuel emitting vehicles by 2035, but on a federal level.
The plan is to gradually raise electrical vehicle and electrical plug-in hybrid purchases 35 percent in 2026, 51 percent by 2028, and 80 percent by 2038. All major car manufacturers are making the infrastructural changes needed to rise to this challenge. Much of the technology is currently ready at scale, but some of the infrastructural hurdles can easily be addressed, such as charging stations throughout the federal interstate system and financial incentives which can make driving an electrical vehicle much cheaper, while also eliminating oil changes.
An article from NPR called U.S. greenhouse gas emissions rose by 6.2% in 2021 states that the largest contribution of this 6.2 percent rise of greenhouse gas emissions is from large trucks delivering the freight that we all use on an everyday basis. From a scientific perspective, this increase is unstainable, and unchecked can lead to an ominous future.
On another note that may be dismissed by some as irrelevant to their current state of affairs is that the pollution spewed by the transportation industry disproportionately affects people of color or low economic status with asthma and other illnesses.
According to an article from Inside Climate News, called Study Underscores That Exposure to Air Pollution Harms Brain Development in the Very Young, “Researchers have found that toddlers exposed to particulate matter score lower on IQ tests, losing as many as 2.63 points on those exams for every 2 micrograms per cubic meter of pollution exposure.” The article also states that “toddlers have a 6% increased risk of behavioral problems for every 2 parts per billion of nitrogen dioxide to which they are exposed.”
To put this simply, our transportation sector has a human rights component that most people like to gloss over; it’s part of a structural breakdown that creates inequality amidst a population historically neglected and treated as second class citizens as has been the trend throughout the history of our country.
Not only the health of the marginalized is affected by the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. Airborne toxins affect all of us. But, a study by the American Lung Association Zeroing in on Healthy Air report finds that switching to electric cars, buses and trucks and clean electricity could save 110,000 lives and bring $1.2 trillion in public health benefits across the U.S. over the next 30 years. That’s along with more than $1.7 trillion in climate benefits over that time.
So contact the EPA . Please let them know that history will judge us — if there is a history to judge us. We are at a precipice and there is no turning back!
Joseph Hoydilla lives in Middletown.