Reducing Fossil Fuels
California is known to be one of the worst states, in terms of air quality, within the whole United States. The largest contributor to this terrible air quality has been discovered to be the burning of fossil fuels in all sorts of vehicles(Union of Concerned Scientists, 2017). The most common fossil fuels include coal, oil, and natural gas and are mainly used for producing electricity or as fuel for transportation. Considering that fossil fuels are the main contributors of CO2 emissions and this is a major cause of global warming, the state of California should look into implementing methods of reducing fossil fuels and bettering the air quality in order to slow the development of global warming. A great alternative to fossil fuels would be hydrogen since it is plentiful and non-polluting.
According to Mary H. Cooper in a 2005 report, the use of hydrogen fuel cells would not only help end the United States’ reliance on Middle Eastern oil, but also reduce air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions. This would be a very effective solution in California considering air pollution and CO2 emissions are the main issue. Hydrogen can also be directly converted from water, through a process known as electrolysis, using electrical energy from wind turbines(The International Forum on Globalization, 2004). This process is particularly effective because it does not result in any pollutants since it is using wind turbines to produce the electricity. Even though this process is more expensive than that to produce oil, the oil supply is expected to gradually decrease and eventually cost more to produce, making hydrogen the more cost efficient solution(The International Forum on Globalization, 2004). BMW, in Germany, also sells hydrogen powered cars that are just as efficient as gasoline powered vehicles, showing that hydrogen fuel cells are just as powerful as gasoline and oil(The International Forum on Globalization, 2004). Considering the dwindling supply of oil and the negative effects it has on the environment, the use of hydrogen fuel cells in its place would be the most effective alternative because of the availability and power efficiency. Guiding people away from using fossil fuels by increasing the tax on gasoline would also be an efficient way of reducing air pollution. Rising the gas tax would essentially reward people for not driving, using other forms of transportation, and using more environmentally friendly forms of fuel, such as biodiesel(Heminger, Barrett, Skov, 2012).
The less people on the road driving leads to less CO2 emissions being released into the atmosphere. The gas tax would also incentivize people to purchase more hybrid vehicles or take public transportation, which will be explained more in depth later. The revenue gained by this gas tax increase could also be used to fund projects or research into alternative technologies. Providing a solid plan for the revenue would make people more open to this tax because they know that their money would be going towards something that will benefit the entire state(Heminger, Barrett, Skov, 2012). Tax credits in the past have also jump started many productive programs, for example, solar and wind turbines became a vital part of society about 30 years ago because it was able to be funded through tax revenue(The International Forum on Globalization, 2004). In essence, increasing taxes on gas will push people toward other forms of transportation, using more environmentally friendly alternatives for gasoline, and fund more research and projects using alternative fuels. Another way to reduce air pollution and fossil fuels would be to increase the purchases of electric, hybrid, or other fuel-efficient cars. Increasing the use of vehicles that are powered by electricity would be one of the more efficient ways to reduce CO2 emissions because an electric car releases very few harmful emissions, if any at all. As mentioned in the last paragraph, a gas tax would give consumers motivation to purchase hybrid or electric vehicles because they would not have to pay as much, or even any, money for gas if the car can run on electricity as well. Providing tax breaks for owners of hybrid or electric cars would also result in more people purchasing these types of vehicles(Silberglitt, Wong, et al. , 2009). Even implementing statewide policies, such as tax benefits, that support the manufacturing of hybrids and other fuel efficient vehicles could expand the amount of fuel efficient cars sold as well(Silberglitt, Wong, et al. , 2009). Increasing the amount of electric, hybrids, and other fuel-efficient cars on the road would result in less CO2 emissions since there would be less cars running purely on gasoline.
Investing more money in the public transportation system by providing electric or alternative fuel buses could increase usage and decrease the amount of emissions produced on a daily basis. Heavy duty vehicles, such as buses and trucks, represent about 50% of fuel consumption and, therefore, are large contributors to CO2 emissions(Silberglitt, Wong, et al. , 2009). Companies, such as General Motors and General Electric, are continuing to produce hybrid and more fuel efficient buses(Silberglitt, Wong, et al. , 2009). Swapping out big gas guzzling buses with electric, hybrid buses, or alternative fuel buses would significantly increase the air quality through emissions reduction. More people would also be motivated to take public transit buses if the increased gas tax were to become a reality(Heminger, Barrett, Skov, 2012). This electric bus project could even be funded by the revenue gained from the gas tax.
Another way to reduce the amount of CO2 emissions is through the process of carbon capture and storage. This process includes isolating the main stream of CO2, pressurizing it in preparation for transport, and finally transporting it through a pipeline to a location where it won’t be absorbed into the atmosphere(Toman, Curtright, et al, 2008). This process works the best when the CO2 is captured from a facility where the source is large enough(Toman, Curtright, et al, 2008). According to Jennie C. Stephens and Bob Van Der Zwaan in their 2005 report, “capturing and storing CO2 is a cost competitive and safe way to achieve large scale reductions in emissions” indicating that carbon capture and storage would a very efficient and harmless way to reduce large amounts of CO2 emissions from large fossil fuel burning factories.
In essence, the state of California must continue to implement new programs in order to decrease CO2emissions and better the air quality. Some methods of action include transitioning to the use of hydrogen fuel cells, implementing a higher gas tax, providing more incentives for consumers to purchase electric/hybrid vehicles, replacing all public transit buses with electric/hybrid buses, and the use of the carbon capture and storage process. Within the last decade or so, California has made a considerable amount of process in the area of fossil fuel and emissions reduction, but there is still much work to be done. Through the implementation of these methods, California will reach a time when its air quality is not deemed one of the worst in the country.
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