Keep on Trucking: Reducing our Carbon Footprint

 

Submitted by Akudo McGee on 10/01/17

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The nascent fascination with reducing our carbon footprint has transposed itself across national and international dialogue about economic, cultural and even religious practices. Whether it’s turning off the tap as we brush our teeth or heading to the farmer’s market to snag locally grown produce without extra plastic packaging, the everyday person is becoming more aware of the substantial effect that they have on the future of the planet. The blossoming of environmentally friendly alternatives makes it clear that the reduction of our carbon footprint is both an individual endeavor and a group decision. In an effort to reduce our impact on the planet, many governments and supranational entities, like the EU and UN have proposed and produced programs aimed at lowing carbon emissions. Their aim is primarily focused on studying, regulating and encouraging the use of environmentally effective methods of group activity, such transportation to work and school, the foods we buy, harvest and consume and community/city contributions to recycling. These efforts involve programs to reward citizens with driving less (like tax credits), encouraging people to take the bus or have products like groceries or clothing delivered as opposed to driving. They also extend to boosting transport companies to move people, property, and vehicles en masse so that less individual cars take to the road for transport.

A brilliant poster child for such an enterprise is the shipping of vehicles, such as cars and motorcycles as an alternative to driving the vehicles across the city, state or country to transport them. The transportation of vehicles by trucking transportation services has several benefits. The most conspicuous benefit to the consumer is that they are not required to drive the vehicle (which may take hours or days, depending on their location and destination), they can purchase or sell vehicles to a wider audience who may not be located nearby and that multiple vehicles (including hobby cars and golf carts) can be moved in fewer trips and without multiple drivers. These practical benefits alone make it apparent that shipping services are an invaluable resource for consumers but perhaps the most appealing value for environmentalists is that vehicle transport services cut back on fuel use and emissions and replace the multiple vehicles being on the road.  How? By using the same principals that proponents of public transit as an alternative to personal vehicle use hail as significant.

For example, with public transit, 16 people can decide to ride one bus to work. That means that instead of driving 16 cars (assuming each person drives to work solo and doesn’t carpool with in vehicle besides the bus), only one vehicle will be used for transport. While the value of systems like carpool lanes, bicycle lanes (and rider protection) and more “walkable “neighborhoods cant be ignored, they are highly dependent on the geographic and political landscape of the city itself (for instance, bicycle lanes are harder to develop in cities with narrow streets or dirt roads). This model is attractive both because it lowers traffic congestion and reduces vehicles on the road and because policy makers can pass similar restrictions to improve the emissions on fewer vehicles, like buses or trucks more easily than passing legislation that targets thousands or millions of consumer vehicles. Companies often make the choice to upgrade the efficiency of their vehicles out of environmental consciousness and economic considerations. Better fuel efficiency means that less money is spent on fuel, fewer stops are required to refuel the vehicles and that the environment is less detrimentally impacted by vehicle emissions. Vehicle transport services also save fuel by taking carefully planned routes, which take less time to navigate and reduce traffic congestion (by limiting the need for multiple vehicles on the road for the sole purpose of transporting them to a new location).

This ensures that less time is spent idling or driving on the roads and highways mostly because it makes good economic sense for trucking companies to reduce the amount of unnecessarily turns and avoid getting lost, which wastes time and fuel. According to the United Kingdom’s website dedicated to air quality research and data, air-quality.org.uk, diesel engines are also more efficient than petrol vehicles (without a catalyst). Diesel has more energy per liter and diesel engines are more efficient at reducing carbon emissions than petrol vehicles. Many trucks are also now running with biodiesel engines with further limit environmental impact. It behooves shipping companies and is in their financial scope to upgrade older vehicles and invest in fuel saving options. Vehicle owners may also be pleased that the amount of wear and tear on their vehicles is reduced when they don’t have to be driven far from home! While there is more than enough room to improve the reduction of carbon emissions, moving multiple vehicles simultaneously across well-organized, pre-planned routes is a very important step.

In summary, the future of reducing our environmental impact can be seen in the direct actions that we take. The awareness of our actions has become ubiquitous with living in the 21st century, as conscious environmentalists and at times can be difficult. Forgoing excessive plastic packaging, participating in clothing swaps or purchasing reusable personal hygiene products are some recent ideas that identify our individual impact on the fragile health of our planet but group actions also matter. This is evident in the way that governments and other agencies limit, enforce or survey our shared consumption of food, the way we transport ourselves and our property and how/if neighborhoods recycle. Transport (public, private and commercial) plays an integral role in reducing carbon emissions and has recently become the target of laws, protocols, and campaigns to drive group behavior towards more sustainable methods- vehicle transport is no different. In fact, vehicle transport companies are great poster children for the reduction of emissions through their fuel choices, lessening of traffic congestion, planned routes and resourceful fuel use. As if these benefits were not desirable enough, consumers also benefit from practical matters such as being able to transport multiple vehicles in fewer trips, reducing vehicle wear and tear and expanding options to buy and sell vehicles over larger geographic regions.

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