November 22, 2019

In stay in the atmosphere for years- even centuries.

In
recent generations, our environment has been severely impacted by climate
change and global warming, which causes danger not only to the health of humans
and other living species, but to the health of our planet. Our rising
temperature, rising seas and severe flooding are only mere preliminary impacts
caused by climate change, with more severe environmental phenomena sure to come.
In addition to the massive amounts of detriment caused by the mass farming
industry, a major cause of the global warming we see today is our own motorized
vehicles. It is very important to analyze their effects on global warming and how
we can come together as a population to help reduce greenhouse emissions. Understanding
how hybrid cars positively affect the environment is essential in helping
reduce greenhouse gasses, and in the long run improving the health of our
planet, or at least slow down the effects of emissions.

Global
warming is, in the non-scientific community, a controversial issue in the
United States, and across the globe we have yet to come to a resolution on how
to act. Although some of the population argues that global warming is a myth,
scientists have proved time and time again that unless we manage and decrease
global-warming emissions, the average U.S temperatures are expected to rise by up
10 degrees over the next century (McMillan 2017). Global warming is a direct result
of pollutants and carbon dioxide that are released from the human population
down in the ethnosphere, which eventually collect in the atmosphere and effect
many aspects of our environment. These pollutants can and do stay in the
atmosphere for years- even centuries. The radiation caused by these pollutants
have nowhere to go, so it gets trapped, leading to warmer temperatures around the
world, sea level rise and ice mass melting. The second-largest source of carbon
pollution in the United States to industrial farming is the transportation
sector in the United States (Carbon Pollution 2017). Automobiles generate roughly about
1.7 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year (MacMillan 2017). The
creation of new energy-efficient technology in cars facilitates in reducing the
amount of carbon dioxide emissions released in the United States and around the
world.

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The
development of hybrid cars is a concept that has been kicking around for a
couple hundred years now. Hybrid cars were introduced as an attempt to aid in
reducing air pollution. Hybrid cars have many environmental impacts that are
beneficial in reducing harmful greenhouse gas production and overall improve
health. According to the United States department of Energy, hybrid cars use
approximately 1/3 less gasoline than a standard internal combustion engine
vehicle (The Benefit, N.D). The number one cause of global warming are Carbon-based
emissions, some of which coming from passenger cars. Hybrid cars on average emit
25 to 90 percent less emissions than a gas engine car (The Benefit, N.D). Hybrid
cars also produce lower levels of gas fumes, contributing less to the ever
present creating of smog than internal combustion engines used in other
vehicles. Hybrid cars also aid in protecting our non-renewable sources of
energy like gasoline and other types of petroleum. These fossil fuels are
limited, and not recyclable, which means that once they are gone they can never
be replaced. The human wars and violent conflicts that have arisen as a means
to seize these natural resources alone should be a good reason to move away
from gas-based vehicles.

The
first hybrid vehicle was built in 1901 by Ferdinand Porsche, and was called ‘the
system Lohner-Porsche Mixte’ (Murrye 2015). This hybrid car used a gasoline
engine to supply power to an electric motor that drove the car’s front wheels.
The Mixte was well received, but the demand started to decline when Henry Ford
started the first automobile assembly line in 1904. Ford produced
gasoline-powered cars that were sold at a low price and were, therefore, more
accessible and enticing to the public. 
Since hybrid cars were more expensive and had less power than these
gasoline-powered cars, they were quickly forgotten and became a thing of the
past as soon as they had come. (Murrye 2015). As a byproduct of the capitalist
society that still exists in this country, consumers were prevented from
becoming aware of the harm they were doing to the environment by buying these
vehicles. Because of their low prices, consumers were pacified and uninterested
in changing their consumption habits. The reason that these new gasoline
vehicles were so cheap is because they were mass produced, and did not cost as
much to make in both time and labor.

Furthermore,
the United States Congress introduced a legislation that encouraged users to
use electric vehicles to help reduce air pollution. This breaking legislation
helped hybrid vehicles make a bit of a comeback. However, the government’s
effort to renew public interest did not gain momentum until the Arab oil
embargo in 1973 (Murrye 2015). Arab members of the OPEC, the Organization of
Petroleum Exporting Countries imposed an embargo against the United States in
retaliation for the U.S decision to re-supply the Israeli military and to gain
leverage in the post-war peace negotiations (Oil Embargo, N.D). This oil crisis
caused the price of gasoline to skyrocket while supply decreased dramatically.
In the late 1990s, a few all-electric vehicles were introduced such as the GM
EV1 and Toyota Rav-4 EV (Oil Embargo, N.D). 
These electric cars did not garner much interest from consumers, and
were dropped from production due to it not low demand. In 1997, the release of
the Toyota Prius in Japan had gained more demand than other gas powered
vehicles in the past.

In
1999, the Honda Insight was the first mass produced hybrid vehicle in the United
States.  Although the Honda Insight was
the first in the U.S, it was the Toyota Prius released in 2000 that gave the
hybrid technology a foothold (Berman 2015). 
Within the past few years, hybrids cars have become more widely available,
and not only from Toyota and Honda but from various other automotive
manufacturers as well. These new vehicles are gasoline powered, and still have
no primary source of power other than gasoline. By using a combination of
batteries, an electric motor and the gasoline engine, these hybrids cars have
achieved improved fuel economy and helped to reduce emissions (Berman 2015).
They have an equal performance as the traditional gasoline-powered cars, but
with a much better fuel economy.

Hybrid
cars are often confused with electric vehicles, and although they are rather
similar they still have glaring differences. A hybrid vehicle actually employs
more than one form of energy to run. “Hybrid cars have a traditional
internal-combustion engine and a fuel tank, as well as one or more electric
motors and a battery pack” (Edmunds 2013). They differ from regular cars by
collecting and reusing energy that normally goes to waste. Hybrids are a recent
phenomenon, but the technology has been around since the creation of automobile
really. Hybrid cars have, generally, two different modes which include parallel
and series. Parallel hybrid systems work when the internal combustion engine
and electric motor work one at a time (Hybrid cars 2014). This allows the
vehicle to become more efficient because the engine and electric motor are
working together to save on fuel. The second mode is series hybrid, where the
battery runs on the electric motor to drive the wheels and uses the internal
combustion engine to recharge the electric motor when it uses all its energy
(Hybrid cars 2014). The best one of these options would be the parallel mode
because it is more useful in driving in higher speeds. Series mode is not as
efficient when driving in higher speeds.

There are three different types of hybrids. The
first type of hybrid is full hybrids, which are considered the most fuel
efficient. These vehicles are the most expensive hybrids, but they can
automatically operate in parallel mode, all electric mode, or series mode (Cobb
2014). The parallel mode refers to the use of both the electric motor and gas
engine, the series mode refers to the electric motor operating the wheel and
the gas engine turns the electric motor. The second type of hybrid includes
mild hybrids, where they have battery but also needs to have the gas engine on to
operate. The third type of hybrid vehicle are called plug-in hybrids, which
purely run on electric power. It seems that the more money that buyers are able
to spend, the smaller their carbon footprint will be. The better option for the
environment would be full hybrid, because they don’t rely solely on gas to
operate the engine (Cobb 2014).

The cons of having a hybrid vehicle are very
present. It is known that it will slow you down while driving on the highway, that
they require expensive maintenance, and that they can vary in the price
depending on the model. Hybrid cars function differently than gas powered
vehicles. Hybrid cars are not build for speed, but instead for economy. They
have a gasoline engine that is not as large as regular vehicles. When accelerating
a hybrid car, the conventional engine works with the electric motor and does
not accelerate as fast as gas powered vehicles (Pros and Cons 2014). Hybrid
cars often have a high maintenance cost due to its battery, and many mechanics
are not equipped to repair them. Although many hybrid cars today come with
warranties, their parts are not readily available like other conventional
vehicles. Most hybrid cars have two driving modes, so when driving on the
expressway it does not have the same accelerating speed as gas powered vehicles
(Pros and Cons 2014). Even though these vehicles don’t have the same power as
regular vehicles, their impact on the environment are less than other cars,
where in lies their appeal.

Overall, hybrid cars have pros that seem to outweighs
its cons, if you’re of a socioeconomic bracket that can handle financing it. By
buying hybrid vehicles, consumers are playing a small part in lowering our
impact on the environment, and it will also help them save money in the long
run, since they will not have to spend as much money on gas. Hybrid
cars seem to be beneficial financially as well environmentally, besides initial
cost and cost of repair. As we become more educated on global warming and the
harm that we are causing our planet by using cars that emit so much pollution
in the atmosphere, it’s time for consumers to reckon with their role in the
movement and be more conscious when auto shopping, hopefully by switching over
to driving hybrids only. If the companies administering them made an effort to
make them more accessible to all classes of society, we could possibly start to
reduce the emissions of the commuters of the USA.

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