Privately Owned Gasoline Powered Vehicles Should Be Limited

February 25, 1995
Social Studies 10H

The automobile has become a very important part of today's society. It
is a necessity to own or to have access to a car in order to keep up with all of
the competition of the business world, and also one's social demands. Most
people would not be able to travel around a country or the world without this
incredible machine, for it provides freedom and mobility, even for people who do
not own a car. Unfortunately, the car has a very destructive nature.
Automobiles make a major contribution to air and noise pollution, depletion of
fossil fuels, and to the abnormalities in children and adults due to lead
poisoning. In order to stop this devastation, the use of gas powered
automobiles must be limited by replacing them with alternative modes of
transportation, or by finding a way to ease them out of utilization.
There are many reasons why the number of privately owned gasoline
powered cars on the road should be limited. First of all, and most importantly,
automobiles are harmful to our environment. Automobiles run on gasoline, which
is a mixture derived from petroleum. Gasoline contains hundreds of different
hydrocarbons, or compounds containing the chemical elements carbon and
hydrogen(Gasoline). When the gas is burned in the engine of the car, several
byproducts result. These exhausts include hydrocarbons and oxides of three
elements: Carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur(Emissions). Tiny amounts of poisonous
trace elements such as lead, cadmium, and nickel also are present. Everything
contained in the exhaust affects the environment intensely. Auto engine exhaust
contributes about 50% of today's atmospheric pollution, and in highly populated
and industrialized cities, air pollution consists of up to 80% car exhaust.
Because of all of the gasoline powered cars on the road, the earth's
outermost protective shell, the ozone layer, is being destroyed. The ozone
layer guards against, among other things, global warming and skin cancer(Fisher
14). If it is annihilated, the whole planet, including the human race, will be
erased along with it. This is one reason gasoline powered automobiles should be
The automobile also contributes to noise pollution. Cities around the
world are constantly packed with cars, and, as a result, there are traffic jams.
Patience, as a virtue, is not always bestowed on everyone, and, therefore,
people start honking their horns and yelling at others. This produces a
polyphonic sound that is not very pleasing to anyone, especially those in the
traffic jam who have already had a stressful day at work. Obviously, this is
not the fault of the automobile itself, but the fault of the owners. If there
were a limit on the number of cars allowed on such public roads as Fifth Avenue
or the Henry Hudson Parkway in New York City, noise pollution, and air pollution,
for that matter, would not be a major factor of environmental degradation.
Another reason privately owned gasoline powered vehicles should be
limited is the depletion of the fossil fuel supply. People all over the world
need petroleum, a fossil fuel, to fill their cars in order to get around.
However, petroleum, like many other natural resources on this earth, is in short
supply. The continued use of petroleum at the current rate will cause the
limited supply to dwindle. Our society does not seem to realize this point,
though, and, as a result, petroleum is wasted in many ways while en route to an
automobile's gas tank.
Oil companies transport petroleum all over the world by many means. Over
the years, some methods have proved to be dangerous, such as the truck, train,
tanker, or boat. A clear example of this danger occurred when the Exxon Valdez
tanker ran aground in March of 1989(Nadis 16). The Valdez was carrying 11
million gallons of oil, and a drunk captain, across the Prince William Sound at
the time of the disaster. All 11 million gallons poured out, thereafter seen
only upon the thousands of species of animals that this accident destroyed. A
total ecological system was wiped out from a shipment of oil meant for
Oil is not only lost in transport, though. Storage tanks can waste
quite a lot of petroleum without anyone knowing about it, but, at the same time,
polluting the environment. Seventeen million gallons of oil have leaked from a
storage tank of a service station in Brooklyn, New York(Nadis 17). A similar
situation has occurred in El Segundo, California, but on a much grander scale.
A two hundred million gallon pool lies underneath a service station there, and
twenty eight million gallons of that has oozed closer to the San Francisco Bay,
endangering water supplies(17). Among the nearly six million underground oil
tanks that exist in this country,