Gas Powered Cars and the Environment

A car tail pipe with exhaust coming out

A look at how conventional cars impact our natural resources, our health and our wallets

Now more than ever before, terms such as 'environmentally-friendly', 'global warming', 'climate change' and 'going green' have become commonplace in conversation.  One could argue these words wouldn't be so common if not for the automobile.

Over the past 100 years, gasoline-powered cars have significantly impacted our environment, the earth's natural resources and ultimately, our health.  In answer, green car technologies have emerged to help combat the long term damaging effects conventional cars have had on our planet.

In this section, we've outlined just some of those effects in an effort to demonstrate the ever-growing importance of greener, environmentally-friendlier vehicles. 

Vehicle Emissions and the Environment

For starters, conventional gasoline-burning internal combustion engines release carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxide into the atmosphere in the form of exhaust emissions.  Carbon dioxide, in particular, is a greenhouse gas known to significantly influence global warming and climate change.

Nitrogen oxides are especially damaging since they can travel long distances from where they were originally emitted and, when mixed with atmospheric compounds, create ozone and smog.

In addition to emissions, the burning of fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel deplete non-renewable natural resources which not only take millions of years to form, they diminish much faster than they're replenished. 

The Financial Impact of Conventional Cars

In addition to environmental problems, conventional gasoline-powered cars impact our wallets.  Since conventional cars are less fuel efficient than green cars, additional fill-ups mean additional fuel costs. 

What's more, recent statistics show the United States accounts for more than 40 percent of the world's gasoline consumption. Additionally, Americans own more cars per household and drive longer distances than people in other parts of the world.  Not only does this lead to an increased dependence on fossil fuels, it requires additional U.S. financial resources to mine, purchase or refine those fuels.

Air Pollution and Health Concerns

For humans, carbon monoxide is toxic and when inhaled, contains substances that impair the delivery of oxygen to the brain and body tissues. Hydrocarbons come in many forms, but when derived from petroleum, they can have dangerous effects on the lungs, heart, and intestines due to prolonged exposure.  Nitrogen oxides, when mixed with atmospheric compounds create ozone and smog, which can also lead to respiratory problems.

A Greener Way of Life

When you combine the power of gasoline as a fuel, America's reliance on it, the world's demand of it and its detrimental effects to our natural resources, our finances and our health, the evolution away from traditional fossil fuels and internal combustion engines towards green cars that use renewable energy sources and advanced technologies becomes increasingly important.

The automotive industry has addressed this by way of a variety of green car technologies, including electric vehicles powered by an electric motor and rechargeable batteries, hydrogen vehicles that use hydrogen internal combustion engines and fuel cells, and hybrid cars that use gasoline and electric power in combination.  Automakers continue to expand their offerings with vehicles that use alternative fuels and advanced technologies to reduce emissions and preserve our natural resources. 

As production of environmentally-friendly cars becomes more commonplace and as the price of advanced technologies becomes more affordable, a greener way of life — perhaps one without fossil fuels — becomes more and more realistic.

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