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Problems Associated With Fossil Fuel Powered Transportation

1377 words - 6 pages

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 (NOx) and 2% of sulphur oxides (SOx) discharged to the atmosphere. If these levels were allowed to continue, the effects of global warming could become an unpleasant reality very soon.SOx and NOx emissions also contribute to acidification of the water vapour in the atmosphere resulting in what is known as "˜acid rain'. The oxide gasses react with the evaporated water present in the atmosphere with the products being nitrous acid and sulphurous acid and are blown downwind of the source to fall as rain perhaps hundreds of miles away. Although the concentrations of these acids is relatively weak, sustained exposure to rain that is contaminated can result in long term damage to plant life, killing trees and vegetation by acidification, and also to buildings and other stonework/ masonry with erosion, with sedimentary rock brickwork etc. being particularly susceptible to damage e.g. limestone.Graham MillerId: T4379911U206TMA 04 The tarry particles, soot and heavy metals e.g. lead as well as carbon monoxide emitted from vehicle engines also contribute to atmospheric pollution by floating in the low atmosphere and causing photochemical smog,...

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