Potential Environmental Impacts of Utilization of ConocoPhillips Fuel Efficient High Performance (FEHP) Lubricant Applications in the Automotive Industry
In some shape or form, nearly all aspects of American life contribute to unnecessary exploitation of natural resources. The automobile is a staple of American life and culture, and perhaps best exemplifies Americans’ dependence on gross quantities of raw materials. On any given day, over 235 million vehicles travel 11 billion miles on U.S. highways, consuming nearly 20 million barrels of oil daily 1,2,3. Worldwide, oil consumption has reached a 16-year high of 80.6 million barrels per day 17. Most important of all, proven oil reserves around the world only provide roughly 40 years of production at these current rates 18. Oil consumers ignore this reality either through lack of education or simple apathy, because right now there are no immediate consequences to consuming such vast volumes of a polluting, non-renewable resource. Numbers like those mentioned above are so large it is difficult for one to fathom their true magnitude, however they still convey the reliance average Americans have on their automobiles and oil.
By and large, the automobile is the only way most Americans travel. Without getting into the details of problems with public transportation, people simply do not consider other options to personal transportation. This becomes especially significant when one considers that cars are the single largest emitter of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The U.S. produces nearly 24% of the world’s CO2 emissions, a third of which comes from gasoline combustion in cars 4,5. Many scientists cite rising oil consumption as the leading cause of global climate change, in which molecules like CO2 trap solar radiation within the Earth’s troposphere, raising average global surface temperatures. Various serious environmental catastrophes may result from continued global warming, one of which is rising sea levels due to the melting of polar ice caps. For the most part however, the global climate system is far too complex to make accurate predictions, but this does not mean that such issues should be ignored. Rather, we should proceed with caution.
Furthermore, rising consumer popularity and low fuel efficiency make for a lethal combination with regards to SUV’s and light trucks. In 1975, SUV’s and trucks accounted for only about 13% of vehicles purchased. The EPA has estimated that SUV’s and trucks will make up nearly 4 times that much in 2004 - 48% of total vehicle sales. Trucks and SUV’s are less fuel-efficient than other automobiles, getting an average of 17 miles per gallon compared to about 25 miles per gallon attained by passenger cars 6. According to these fuel economy and consumer trends, fuel consumption in the United States is only going to increase in the near future. In turn, global climate change will likely grow accordingly with increased...