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4 Ways Driving Hurts the Environment and Your Health

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car fumes by Riley Kaminer via flickr (1)

Most Americans commute into the city from a suburban neighborhood rather than live close enough to walk to the office. Thus, the average time they spend driving to work is 25.5 minutes.

That totals nearly an hour that every day people spend in compulsory driving (as opposed to shopping or recreation), and all that time in the car is taking its toll on both you and the world around us.

For example, an hour of driving per day has considerable impact on the environment. More than 19 pounds per gallon of carbon emissions come out of the average vehicle’s tailpipe. That’s approximately 40 pounds per day per person!

We can see the effects of this kind of pollution in the environment and in your body. Here are some of effects of frequent driving that have the most notable impact.

1. Increase in Climate Change

Our atmosphere evolved to enable excess heat to slip through the atmosphere and beyond, which effectively keeps things cool down near the surface of the planet. As more carbon emissions float into the environment, they block that heat from escaping.

The emissions build up and form a kind of insulation that keeps heat trapped around the earth, and vehicles are a major source of those emissions. Last year, reports showed that the planet is steadily warming.

2015 was the hottest year on record, and 2016 is slated to be even hotter. These are strong hints that vehicle emissions are having a serious effect upon our comfort on this globe.

2. Higher Risk for Drunk Driving

Every year, nearly 10,000 people are killed in drunk driving crashes. That’s comes to about one fatality every 53 minutes. When you regularly put yourself on the road for a long commute, you’re significantly increasing the risk of running into a drunk driver, and perhaps even driving while impaired yourself.

This is not just illegal and likely to cost you a hefty sum in legal fees, but it could lead to an early death, whether yours or that of an innocent victim you hit.

3. Poorer Air Quality

Smog is a major issue in highly populated areas that suffer from poor air quality. It’s a direct product of carbon emissions, for which vehicles are a major contributor.

When people live in areas where the air has lower quality, this increases the risk for illnesses such as asthma, allergies, bronchitis, and other acute respiratory conditions. Air pollution can also increase a person’s risk of lung cancer and emphysema — chronic conditions that can often be fatal.

In short, people who live in areas with low air quality tend to experience a higher mortality rate.

4. Rising Blood Sugar and Cholesterol

Studies have shown that people who drive more than 10 miles per day tend to register higher levels of blood sugar and cholesterol. Both of these conditions can lead to other, severe health issues, such as diabetes and heart disease.

With relation to the blood-sugar issue, your blood pressure can also spike temporarily when you’re in a high-stress traffic situation. High blood pressure is known as “the silent killer,” because it strikes when we least expect it.

These are just a few of the ways that driving can have severe adverse health effects over time. Your mortality rate rises significantly with each hour you spend at the wheel, as does the declining state of the environment.

Seeking alternative forms of transportation and reducing your carbon emissions could do a world of good for you and everyone around you.

 

Environment

Road Trip! How to Choose the Greenest Vehicle for Your Growing Family

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Greenest Vehicle
Licensed Image by Shutterstock - By Mascha Tace -- https://www.shutterstock.com/g/maschatace

When you have a growing family, it often feels like you’re in this weird bubble that exists outside of mainstream society. Whereas everyone else seemingly has stability, your family dynamic is continuously in flux. Having said that, is it even possible to buy an eco-friendly vehicle that’s also practical?

What to Look for in a Green, Family-Friendly Vehicle?

As a single person or young couple without kids, it’s pretty easy to buy a green vehicle. Almost every leading car brand has eco-friendly options these days and you can pick from any number of options. The only problem is that most of these models don’t work if you have kids.

Whether it’s a Prius or Smart car, most green vehicles are impractical for large families. You need to look for options that are spacious, reliable, and comfortable – both for passengers and the driver.

5 Good Options

As you do your research and look for different opportunities, it’s good to have an open mind. Here are some of the greenest options for growing families:

1. 2014 Chrysler Town and Country

Vans are not only popular for the room and comfort they offer growing families, but they’re also becoming known for their fuel efficiency. For example, the 2014 Chrysler Town and Country – which was one of CarMax’s most popular minivans of 2017 – has Flex Fuel compatibility and front wheel drive. With standard features like these, you can’t do much better at this price point.

2. 2017 Chrysler Pacifica

If you’re looking for a newer van and are willing to spend a bit more, you can go with Chrysler’s other model, the Pacifica. One of the coolest features of the 2017 model is the hybrid drivetrain. It allows you to go up to 30 miles on electric, before the vehicle automatically switches over to the V6 gasoline engine. For short trips and errands, there’s nothing more eco-friendly in the minivan category.

3. 2018 Volkswagen Atlas

Who says you have to buy a minivan when you have a family? Sure, the sliding doors are nice, but there are plenty of other options that are both green and spacious. The new Volkswagen Atlas is a great choice. It’s one of the most fuel-efficient third-row vehicles on the market. The four-cylinder model gets an estimated 26 mpg highway.

4. 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

While a minivan or SUV is ideal – and necessary if you have more than two kids – you can get away with a roomy sedan when you still have a small family. And while there are plenty of eco-friendly options in this category, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is arguably the biggest bang for your buck. It gets 38 mpg on the highway and is incredibly affordable.

5. 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel

If money isn’t an object and you’re able to spend any amount to get a good vehicle that’s both comfortable and eco-friendly, the 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel is your car. Not only does it get 28 mpg highway, but it can also be equipped with a third row of seats and a diesel engine. And did we mention that this car looks sleek?

Putting it All Together

You have a variety of options. Whether you want something new or used, would prefer an SUV or minivan, or want something cheap or luxurious, there are plenty of choices on the market. The key is to do your research, remain patient, and take your time. Don’t get too married to a particular transaction, or you’ll lose your leverage.

You’ll know when the right deal comes along, and you can make a smart choice that’s functional, cost-effective, and eco-friendly.

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Environment

How Climate Change Altered this Engineer’s Life

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how climate change affect our lives
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Rawpixel.com -- https://www.shutterstock.com/g/rawpixel

Living the life of an engineer likely sounds pretty glamorous: you are educated and highly regarded, typically have high paying gigs, and with the breadth of knowledge and array of fields of specialty, your possibility for jobs is usually immense.  But what if there was something else that needed your attention? Something bigger than just being an engineer, going to work every day and doing the same technical tasks typically associated with the profession?

For Kevin McCroary, that is exactly how it played out.  A successful engineer, gainfully employed in a prosperous job, a simple trip to the Philippines made him see that there was a bigger issue at hand than using his engineer training in a traditional profession.  This bigger issue was that of climate change.  And working as a volunteer for underprivileged children in the Philippines, he saw first-hand the extensive pollution and poverty that existed here and that impacted the livelihood of these kids and their families.

Upon returning home, from his trip to the Philippines he had a new perspective of the impact we as individuals and as humanity have on the earth, and more than that Kevin wanted to know more.  He started to do some research and study these human-environmental interactions, and shortly thereafter ended up in Greenland.  There, he spoke to a man who had lost his home in a tsunami, and, who, through consistent weather tracking could indeed confirm that the current weather trends were “strange:” there was undeniably a general warming tendency happening in the arctic, causing an array of negative effects.

The combination of these observations, as well as his own research, led Kevin to conclude that something had to be done.  With that in mind, he launched his project Legend Bracelet.  The mission is simple: create a reminder of the legacy we are leaving behind.  As individuals and as humanity, we are leaving behind an imprint on the earth, and the magnitude of it is something that needs to be brought to the forefront of public awareness.  The idea is to have a bracelet that can serve as a daily reminder of the impact on the earth that each of us can have every day, regardless of how big or small.  The bracelet has two capsules: the first is filled with sand or earth, and the second is empty.  As the owner, you are to fill the empty one with your own earth, carrying it with you as a reminder and symbol of your connection and commitment to helping look after our environment.

We are all impacted by climate change, and we all have a responsibility to help.  And it can start with something as simple as putting on a bracelet.  Support Kevin on his Kickstarter campaign for Legend Bracelet, tell others about it, or take action in your own way and play your part in slowing down the effects of climate change.  You may think “but I’m just one person!” You are indeed.  But so is he.  Every change starts with one.

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