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ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS of TRANSPORTATIONTami HawkerSince the stone Age, human beings have yearned to travel, to transport themselves from one point to another. This search to enable humans to voyage has brought about one of the greatest inventions since the wheel. Such forms of transportation have spanned from early ages, from horseback riding to modern-age aerospace travel. The need to travel faster and further expanded the application of engineering in transportation to a great deal of usefulness making travelling simpler for people. However, with this great invention came significant damage and harmful impact on the one resource we cannot afford to lose as a species: a livable environment for present and future generations. Each mode of transportation has its role to play. However, they are also responsible for developing a means of transport that is sustainable and less harmful so as to preserve the Earth's atmosphere and resources.
Fossil Fuel is the leading source of power and energy that fuels all modes of transportation, it also has the most significant, harmful impact on the Earth. Concentrated fossil fuels contain carbon dioxide and methane which are greenhouse gases. These gasses are released into the air and directly affect the ozone layer which acts as a natural, protective barrier in the stratosphere protecting the earth from the sun’s radiation. In recent decades, another fuel source has come into play in a bid to mitigate the effect of greenhouse gases emitted by the use of fossil fuel engines. That fuel source is electrical power used to fuel electric vehicles. Most transportation is by internal combustion engines, including piston engines, gas turbines, rotor engines and jet engines. In simpler form, this is a collection of all motor vehicles (small to large), ships at sea (above or below the sea), aeroplanes for air travel and spaceships for aerospace travel.
As fascinating as these forms of transportation are in their performance, so is their impact on the Earth's well-being. As mentioned, the foremost impact is the depletion of the Earth's natural protective ozone layer. However, a more human-level impact would be air pollution, as the breathable air quality required by all living species has dramatically deteriorated over the years due to the increased utilisation of internal combustion engines. In addition, noise pollution caused by the constant sound emissions generated by the various modes of transportation, and feature designs such as hooting, sound systems, and metal compartments rattling, can raise noise levels above 65 decibels, which affect an estimated 135 million people around the world. The impact of transportation has a double-edged sword effect, which can be either beneficial or detrimental if not applied correctly to preserve the Earth and its habitats.
Landscape damage is yet another impact transportation has on the environment, affected mainly by land-based vehicles. The need to create new roads and landing strips have brought with them the loss of natural habitation to wildlife. Along with the negatively affected land ecosystems, monolithic sea vehicles are responsible for oil spillages that poison aquatic life and leave devastation in their wake long after the clean-up. The impact of transportation has a double-edged sword effect, which can be either beneficial or detrimental if not applied correctly to preserve the Earth and its habitats.
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