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More than 25% of the carbon dioxide produced by human activity comes from transportation. Americans are the greatest producers, emitting 5,839.3 Million Metric Tons of carbon dioxide in the year 2008. The car market is dominated 99.9% by combustion based fossil fuel drive systems. Obviously we need to encourage alternative drive systems and transportation methods into the mix. However, the first decade of the 21st century is characterized by a vast wealth transference. Basically, the wealth of the majority middle class was transfered to a very few super rich. As such, few of us have the money to trade in our gasoline burning vehicles for new technology that is more evironmentally friendly. However, you can change your habits with your existing car to reduce your carbon footprint.

Changing Your Driving Habits

There are a number of ways you can reduce fuel consumption by changing your driving habits. Below is a list of a few. Can you think of others?

  • Coast to stop light. Place gear in neutral while waiting at long traffic lights. Accelerate Slowly.
  • Ride Share. Become a part of a van pool.
  • Use walk, ride bicycle, or mass transportation for short distances. Take bus to downtown areas with limited paid parking.
  • Cut engine while stopped at drive through restaurants, drive up bank tellers, and etc.
  • Combine trip. Don't just go out for one thing, such as a bottle of milk. Combine post office, grocery shopping, and appointments into one trip. Plan your multi destination trip in a loop rather than zig zag. Make a list of places you need to go.
  • Get a GPS device. One of the most efficient ways of driving to an new address. Can also find nearest shopping, restaurants, banks, and etc.
  • Plan your trips for off peak traffic hours. In any urban area, 7-9 a.m. and 4-6 p.m. weekdays are the worst times to be on the road. If you have the luxury, run your driving chores during the middle part of the day.
  • Avoid leaving town the Friday before a big holiday. In the case of Thanksgiving, the Wednesday before is the worst time to leave town. Avoid returning home on Sunday evening.
  • In summer, set car air conditioner as high as comfort can bare.
  • Turn air conditioner off while climbing steep hill.
  • Use cruise control on freeways when traffic is light.
  • On freeways, drive less than 65 mile per hour. Oh this one's is going to hurt many of us.
  • If you take your kids to school in the morning, drop them at a place where school traffic is still fluent. It may be a block or two away from the school entrance, but you can avoid sitting in traffic and burning gas. Do the same when you pick them up in the afternoon.
  • Work schedules: many companies in high traffic areas offer alternate work schedules aside from the traditional nine to five. Some companies offer a 4-10 schedule. With this you work four 10 hour days and have a three day weekend. Other companies offer "flex time". Many high tech and professional jobs offer this benefit. You basically can come in to work anytime as long as you put in your 8 hours.
  • Live as close to work as possible.
  • Your Ideas Here.

Buying a New Car

When you are ready to purchase a new vehicle there are many choices and incentives. Basically, you want to get the efficient car that meets you comfort level and budget, considering the tax and rebate incentives that are available.

The following are some of the choices available today and in the near future:

  • High MPG Gas Powered - There are many high mileage gasoline powered vehicles available today. Typically, you are sacrificing power and speed for smaller and lighter. Some of the best performing cars are Smart Car, Mazda MX-5, Mini Cooper, Toyota Yaris, Honda Civic, Voltswagen Jetta diesel, Hyundai Elantra Blue, and Honda Accord.
  • Flex Fuel - Flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) are designed to run on gasoline or a blend of up to 85% ethanol (E85). Except for a few engine and fuel system modifications, they are identical to gasoline-only models. FFVs experience no loss in performance when operating on E85. However, since ethanol contains less energy per volume than gasoline, FFVs typically get about 25-30% fewer miles per gallon when fueled with E85. However, the advantage is you are emitting fewer pollutants into the atmosphere.
  • Hybrid Gas and Electric
  • Hybrid Gas and Electric Plug In
  • Natural Gas
  • Electric Vehicle (EV) - There will be many choices available with electric motor drive by 2012. The power source for EVs is a large rechargeable battery pack. The latest technology used in these battery packs is Lithium Ion. The limiting factor for EVs is driving range and recharge time. These issues have been addressed with a number of different solutions.

    GM's Chevy Volt has an electric only drive chain, but uses a small gasoline motor to charge the battery when electric charge is running low, thus keeping the car moving without doing a plug in charge.

    Another solution is to place charging stations in parking lots, street curbs, and other place where people park to allow a battery to be toppped off while parked. General Electric (GE) is deploying these charge stations in various city test sites.

    Still another solution is to have a car with a removable battery that can drive into a "switch station" to change to a freshly charged battery within three minutes. It's more convenient than stopping at a gas station. This is being developed by a company called Better Place.

  • Compressed Air Powered

Alternative Transportation Methods

Consider using alternative transportation methods when possible. Urban dwellers have an advantage here. Cities such as San Francisco and New York, where the population density is greater than 40,000 per capita, enjoy economies of scale when it comes to investing in mass transit. There are usually multiple routes of trains, buses, and street cars that can you around the metropolitan area without ever getting into a car. And they are typically cheaper because you don't have pay extravagant prices for parking.

Use Google Maps to find alternate travel routes. Google offers four route types: car, mass, walking, and bicycle. For each of these transportation methods, several alternatives are given. Choose the most convenient. We discovered through Google maps that Los Angeles (LA) has quite an extensive subway system, called the Metro. It has several lines that all meet in downtown LA. Four main routes can take you to either San Fernando Valley, Pasadena, Long Beach, or Riverside areas. That's basically the four corners of the massive LA basin.

Electric Bicycles

These are very efficient, light weight alternatives to driving to work everyday. They commonly include a rechargeable battery and electric motor. They give the option of self power, hybrid power, or full electric power. The best applications over a human only powered bikes, is if you have a hill or hills to clime on the way to work, or if your cummutes are longer than feasable with a normal bike.

Here are some examples of what is available today.

  • Conway E-Rider electric mountain bike.
    electric bicycle
  • Austrian KTM eGnition.
    electric bicycle
  • Bosch and Cannondale.
    electric bicycle

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