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Transportation: From Pollution to Solution

The Community Adventure Program (CAP) is a class for students who want to practice outdoor skills, discuss and debate local outdoor and environmental issues, and who want to make a positive impact in their community. The CAP is unique because students spend 1/2 of their time developing essential wilderness skills going on 2 overnight camping trips and the other 1/2 of their time designing an Action Project to address an environmental issue in the community.

Action Project:
As a class, we brainstormed all the environmental issues in the Boulder area and selected a topic that we felt passionate about. We chose to address the pollution issues surrounding transportation. Having settled on our topic we began researching and compiling statistics about transportation emissions and alternative energy vehicles. We came back to the drawing board to discuss a realistic Action Project that our class could complete this quarter and we decided to assemble a panel of experts to educate our audience and others about the issues surrounding transportation and alternative vehicles.

Our panel included:
1. Graham Hill, President, 21 Wheels.
2. Landon Hilliard, Student Transportation Coordinator, Boulder Valley School District.
3. Robert McCormick, Senior Fuel Engineer, National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
4. Ken Regelson, Renewable Energy Advocate, Boulder Renewable Energy.
5. Will Toor, Director, CU Environmental Center. (Will Toor is now the new Boulder County Commissioner!)

Transportation Research:

  • Although America contains only 4.6% of the world population it emits 24% or roughly 1/4 of the entire worlds CO2, which is more than the entire continent of Europe, Russia, and India combined. Europe alone contains 1.7% more of the world?s population compared to the US. http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/static/in_depth/sci_tech/2001/climate_change/usafacts.stm
  • According to the EPA, transportation is 2nd in US greenhouse gas emissions. http://yosemite.epa.gov/oar/globalwarming.nsf/content/emissionsindividual.html.
  • Average greenhouse gas emissions per capita in America in 1995 were 6.6 tons and emissions per person increased approximately 3.4% from 1990 to 1997. Switzerland had an average of 2 tons per capita in 1995. http://yosemite.epa.gov/oar/globalwarming.nsf/webprintview/EmissionsIndividual.html
  • When George W Bush took office in 2000 he immediately pulled out of the Kyoto protocol calling for a 5% reduction of emissions from 1990’s levels by 2012. Bush’s excuse was that China did not join the treaty making it have an unfair economical advantage over the US. Although China owns 21% of the world?s population and emits a little over one half of what the US does. http://www.globalissues.org/EnvIssues/GlobalWarming/Kyoto.asp
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) accounted for 83 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2002 [1]. Nearly all (97 percent) of these emissions are generated by the combustion of fossil fuels; transportation was responsible for 1,767.5 TgCO2Eq (31 percent) of CO2 emissions. Transportation CO2 emissions grew 21 percent between 1992 and 2002, an average annual change of 1.9 percent (figure 10-4). Heavy-truck emissions grew the most over the period (46 percent). Aircraft emissions rose more slowly, increasing 16 percent from 1992 to 2000, then declining 8 percent in the following two years, most likely a ?9/11 effect? that reduced 1992 to 2002 growth to 6 percent.2 (See box 10-B for information on the two sources of U.S. GHG data. http://www.bts.gov/publications/transportation_statistics_annual_report/2004/
  • Of 169 models of SUVs only 49 of them get over 15 miles to the gallon in town and 20 or over on the highway. Only 4 models of full size SUVs get over 20 in town. The most fuel efficient SUV is the Toyota RAV 4. http://www.fueleconomy.gov

    What We Learned And What You Can Do:

  • Walk your talk.
  • Think locally, but act personally.
  • CU Buff Buses are running on Biodiesel.
  • 50% of Skip buses in Boulder are currently running on Biodiesel.
  • People make decisions based on their wallet, so start buying alternative technologies to help increase the demand and help make alternative technologies cheaper.
  • Encourage people you know in the market to buy a new car to buy hybrid vehicles or other alternative vehicles.
  • Promote carpooling.
  • Talk to friends and family about this issue and what you have learned.
  • Take public transportation to school or work.
  • Buy fuel with higher % of ethanol.
  • Encourage the City Council to make more prime parking spaces for alternative energy and fuel source vehicles.
  • Encourage the Government to raise traditional fuel taxes to make gas more expensive, which will increase the demand for alternative technologies with better fuel economies.
  • Encourage the Government to continue to pass additional tax incentives for alternative energy vehicles.
  • Encourage the auto industry to lower prices of alternative vehicles, increase production, and increase marketing efforts to promote alternative vehicles.
  • Encourage the Boulder Valley School District to convert their school buses to Biodiesel, like CU and other School Districts in Colorado.

    Organizations, Programs, Resources, and Ways To Get Involved:

  • 21 Wheels
  • Biodiesel Tax Credit
  • Boulder Biodiesel
  • Boulder Renewable Energy
  • Car Share
  • Climate Stewardship Act
  • CU Biodiesel
  • CU Environmental Center
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory
  • Regional Air Quality Council
  • Rocky Mountain Institute
  • Transportation and Sustainable Campus Communities: Issues, Examples, Solutions, by Will Toor and Spenser Havlick
  • Categories: Action Projects

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