Car Emissions: a Serious Issue

Our cars are kind of an issue. In fact, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), our vehicles are a major cause of global warming: "Collectively, cars and trucks account for nearly one-fifth of all U.S. emissions, emitting around 24 pounds of carbon dioxide and other global-warming gases for every gallon of gas. About 5 pounds comes from the extraction, production, and delivery of the fuel, while the great bulk of heat-trapping emissions—more than 19 pounds per gallon—comes right out of a car’s tailpipe.”

For years, the Japanese government has supported Honda’s venture into developing fuel cells, particularly relying on hydrogen power. Later this year, Honda will be launching the Clarity, which runs on hydrogen fuel cells. The UCS states that this may be a promising option, stating that, “converting hydrogen gas into electricity produces only water and heat as a byproduct, meaning fuel cell vehicles don’t create tailpipe pollution when they’re driven.”

The below video explains more about how this process works:

Why Isn't Everyone Switching?

While hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are a green alternative to gasoline-powered vehicles, we currently don't have an infrastructure to support their use. Case in point, there are very few refueling stations for hydrogen-powered cars, making it an even more impractical choice than electric cars. For this reason, Honda has decided to launch plug-in hybrid and fully electric versions of their Clarity model next year to, hopefully, broaden their market range.

Moreover, it is difficult to make new technology as efficient as methods that have long been in use; however, a lot of the issue, according to experts, stems from lack of information regarding just how reliable these cars can be.

A survey on consumer perceptions reinforces the issue with the lack of information. Rachel Krause, assistant professor in the School of Public Affairs and Administration at the University of Kansas, asserts, "the lack of accurate information about electric vehicles certainly [has] contributed to their small adoption."

As the fight for green vehicles continues, we hope to see more developments not only in the production of greener cars and charging infrastructure, but the public awareness that would possibly give green vehicles more popularity. “As oil becomes more difficult to extract, burning gasoline will only become dirtier. Using less oil is the real solution,” the UCS states.

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