Problems Associated With Fossil Fuel Powered Transportation

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate July 2001

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Road transport plays a vital role in the lives of people throughout the world. Vehicles of various types move people and goods from place to place, sometimes in inhospitable regions that would be otherwise almost isolated, or perhaps just down the road to the shops as in this country, with minimal effort. Although a great triumph of technology, the convenience afforded by these vehicles comes at a cost, not only in monetary terms, but also to the environment in which we live. The ever increasing number of cars, lorries buses etc. that are manufactured and driven throughout the world are causing long term damage to the air we breathe as well as consuming valuable natural resources. Some of the main problems are discussed below.

One of the major issues regarding internal combustion engines regards the by-products of burning petroleum products in oxygen. These by-products are emitted from the engine exhaust systems and contain various undesirable chemicals.

The quantity of these chemicals discharged depends on the engine fuel but does include oxides of nitrogen, sulphur and carbon, as well as soot, tarry particulates and heavy metals.

The oxides mentioned above affect the environment in a number of ways. Sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide are thought to contribute to the effect known as Global Warming. These gases are known as "˜greenhouse gases' because the molecules tend to trap heat energy within the earths atmosphere instead of letting it pass through into space, creating an effect like the inside of a greenhouse where the glass has a similar effect of trapping heat energy. Road vehicles are by no means the worst polluters of these gases to the atmosphere but do contribute a significant percentage to the total. In Europe in the 1970's, transport was responsible for 28% of nitrogen oxides (...