Old Cars – Menace to the environment

The role of the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is to be an effective environmental regulator and an influential authority on environmental impacts. The EPA would be well aware that the largest contributor to air pollution in the world is the automobile. The culprit, more specifically, is the fossil fuel combustion that occurs in most modern motor vehicles. Thankfully, due to tighter controls on car emissions imposed by governments around the world, motor vehicle manufacturers have responded by introducing alternatively powered motor vehicles such as hybrid and electric vehicles. There is no doubt that these vehicles emit considerably less (if at all) air pollutants to the atmosphere. However, there is a contributor to air pollution that somehow escapes the authorities – the old, neglected motor vehicle.

More often than not, I see these old cars during my commutes to and from work. Sometimes, the cars aren’t that old, but they do certainly look like cars that haven’t had the attention of a motor mechanic for a very long time. Copious amounts of noxious gases are emitted from their half-rusted exhaust pipes, mostly during acceleration. What really irritates me is when I have my window/sunroof open, driving along enjoying the semi open-air driving experience, when all of a sudden, I get a massive whiff of these carcinogenic gases emitted from these cars. I would say that these vehicles, which represent the minority of the cars on the road, are the major contributors of the air pollution problem that we have. So what can we do to fix this wide-spread problem?

Well for a start, the police should crack down on these cars by giving canaries (defect notice) to the vehicle owners. This will at least get the cars off the road and fixed so that they can operate at peak efficiency without polluting the environment (as much). The more extreme measure involves the Australian government and a program nick-named ‘cash for clunkers’. Similar programs have already been implemented in other international markets and involves offering prospective consumers a $2,000 boost who trade in a car built before January 1995 and purchase a brand new car. The new car must however be more fuel efficient and have lower emissions. The aim of the policy is to get around 200,000 old vehicles off the nation’s roads. Unfortunately, this policy didn’t get off the ground. Let’s hope the Government resurrects this policy (or something similar) to help alleviate the situation.

Until there is a drastic reduction of these pollution producing vehicles, I will only be able to enjoy (semi) open-air motoring during my long distance trips with my family to our favourite holiday destinations.

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