TRANSIT TALK-The oceans of the world, the water which cools the air, the major source of food for people on earth, is becoming more acidic because too much carbon dioxide from humans burning coal, petroleum products and gas are released into the atmosphere and is also being absorbed by the oceans.
Should this acidification continue and increase, the oceans will become a place of jellyfish. The whales and the vast majority of the other ocean creatures will cease to exist because they cannot live in water with a high acid content.
Vehicle exhaust from burning petroleum products is a rising factor in producing greater amounts of carbon gases that are absorbed by the oceans. While carbon gases are naturally occurring, and a needed part of the environment, that balance has been thrown off by human activity. Far too much carbon gas has been sent into the atmosphere by burning coal, gas, and petroleum.
It is a simple equation: the more we drive, the more carbon gases we put in the atmosphere; then the temperature of the earth rises, creating, among other things, these frequent, tragic firestorms.
While electric vehicles, which obviously do not emit carbon gases from exhaust, are one answer to reducing carbon gases, it will be decades before there are enough of them on the roads to affect emissions. A scientific panel convened by the United Nations recently stated that we have ten years to greatly reduce carbon gases before we reach truly catastrophic levels of environmental damage.
The quickest way to reduce our carbon gas output is to reduce vehicle exhaust, which means we must stop driving so much. This is not a simple task, to change a lifestyle, but there is no other option for reducing carbon gases from vehicle exhaust in sufficient amounts and in time to counter rising temperatures.
We simply must do this. Whenever possible leave your car or SUV or truck parked. Ride buses and trains and try using that most ancient, intuitive mode of transportation: walking.
(Matthew Hetz is a Los Angeles native. He is a transit rider and advocate, a composer, music instructor, and member and president and executive director of the Culver City Symphony Orchestra.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.