Transport as one of the main causes for environmental pollution

Transport as one of the main causes for environmental pollution

30 September 2019

After a 40-fold excess of the limit on air pollution was recorded in New Delhi, people began to compare the city with a gas chamber. At the same time, The New Yorker published an article about a private school for children from wealthy Indian families and expat children. A distinctive feature of this school is industrial filters for air purification. They are so powerful that provide indoor air quality higher than in the whole city.

You think this is a one-time thing? Not really. The media trumpets that the ecology of the planet is winding up dead. The World Health Organization (WHO) makes calculations and writes programs to save humanity from themselves. However, the dun is in the mire.

The environmental pollution is not only the fault of man, but also occurs in a natural way. But still the main sources of pollution are factories, blast furnaces, livestock complexes, etc. As well as rail, road, air, river, sea, pipeline transport. Let’s figure out what kinds and types of pollution exist, how they progress, and whether something can be done about it.


“Greenhouse effect”


The effect that leads to global warming on Earth. It is caused by the release of carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, methane, chlorofluorocarbons and other so-called "greenhouse gases” into the atmosphere. Due to their accumulation in the atmosphere, the average temperature on Earth can rise by 1.5-4.5 degrees. This, in turn, will lead to a number of negative consequences: the level of the world’s oceans will rise by about 65 cm in the next 100 years. As a result, vast island and coastal areas will be flooded. The boundaries of natural and climatic zones will also shift from the equator to the poles. It will entail resettlement of people and relocation of economic objects.


Destruction of the Earth’s ozone layer


Ozone layer depletion leads to an increase in cancer and kills phytoplankton. And this is the main element of the food chains in the World ocean. It is believed that the destruction of the ozone layer is affected by the growth of production and release of chlorofluorocarbons and other substances used for the manufacture of refrigerators, air conditioners, aerosols, etc. into the environment.


Atmospheric air pollution


As we have already said, the concentration of substances harmful to human health in megacities exceeds all permissible norms by dozens of times. Acid rains that originate from combining sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides with atmospheric moisture, damages forests, lakes and soil. And all of it is the fault of stationary pollution sources – factories, farms and production facilities. However, mobile sources, namely transport, are increasingly contributing to air pollution.

Road transport is considered one of the most dangerous. Thus, it is responsible for 60% of total air pollution in the US, Germany and France. Carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, lead and its compounds with carcinogenic properties enter the air with the exhaust gases. It is estimated that one vehicle emits annually 600-800 kg of carbon monoxide, about 200 kg of unburned hydrocarbons and about 40 kg of nitrogen oxides into the atmosphere.


Policy to reduce air pollution


In fact, it is quite difficult to monitor the ecological status of mobile sources of environmental pollution.  Theoretically, this problem could be solved by installing recording devices on every car, bus, truck etc. This would allow to demand compensation for environmental and economic damages from each person or company. However, today it is technically impossible. Therefore, so far in the world they are accounting for the quantity and quality of the factors of production that cause emissions. They are applying environmental standards on the fuel for vehicles. They are setting taxes per unit of emission source.

It is problematic to do it for the transport that crosses national borders of countries with different environmental standards. Therefore, the governments of the countries concerned are actively considering the possibility of harmonization of national environmental requirements.

Another way to reduce air pollution is to limit the entry of trucks into the city and introduce paid parking zones in the center, as it was done in Moscow. Or to update bus fleets, as, for example, in Murmansk.

The WHO sees the following possible solutions to this situation:

  • To pass over to cleaner ways of generating energy;
  • To pay attention to high-speed urban transport, pedestrian and bicycle networks in cities, as well as long-distance rail freight and passenger transportation;
  • To use cleaner heavy-duty diesel vehicles and low-emission vehicles, as well as cleaner fuels, including those with reduced sulphur concentrations.

This is especially challenging, given that in Russian cities, where there are no large industrial enterprises, emissions of vehicles are considered the main causes of air pollution.

At the same time situation is different in cities with industrial enterprises within the city limits or near the outskirts.

Check up how much air is polluted in your city.

But the ever-growing number of vehicles in major Russian cities is not the only problem. More than 30% of cars and 65% of trucks do not meet even the oldest environmental standard Euro-2 of 1995, which regulates the content of harmful substances in exhaust gases.

But in terms of fuel quality, Russia has caught up and overtaken Europe, according to Rosneft Oil Company’s Vice President. According to internal standards, the fuel is divided into classes K2-K5, which fully comply with international regulations. And the country has banned the sale of fuel below the K5 class since June 1, 2017.

We should also not forget that the level of harmful emissions into the atmosphere depends on such things as brakes, tires and the roads themselves. Their wear and untimely replacement lead to the appearance of small particles that then fly in the air.


Reduction in the number of roads


Today, an area equal to five Great Britain’s territories, is “rolled down” under asphalt and “buried” under sleepers. Therefore, some countries are considering reduction in the number of roads.

For example, in Seoul there was a four-lane highway that serviced 170,000 cars a day. But then it became one solid traffic jam. Instead of widening the road, the city administration decided to get rid of it altogether. It could lead to a chaos. Nevertheless, the load in the city center has decreased. Many residents of South Korean capital shifted to the subway and eventually accustomed to using this mode of transport.

Instead of the road, the Seoul authorities created a Park and restored Chongchon river, which had been hidden under the asphalt all that time. The place quickly gained popularity among locals and tourists. The advantages of this solution were also felt by entrepreneurs, festival organizers and cyclists.

The same decision was made in Seattle, New York and Sheffield.


Assistance from business


Transportation of goods by rail justifies itself, which cannot be said about trucks. They often run through the city streets, being empty, causing considerable damage to the environment. For example, nearly 40 percent of trucks in London are less than a quarter full.

If we want to get rid of smog, it is also important to solve the problem of cargo transportation, as well as to create a quality system of public transport. Some organizations are already practicing delivery of goods by an electric car or bicycle. Some European cities use tramways for this purpose.


SkyWay as a solution to the problem


Nineteen people consume about 30 tons of oxygen per year; one hectare of pine forest produces so much for the same period of time. A hectare of leafy forest emits half as much oxygen, and 1 Hectare of agricultural land — from 3 to 10 tons of oxygen per year. So if 100 million hectares of soil were turned into roads, we would lose at least 1.5 billion tons of oxygen a year. That’s how much 1 billion people need to breathe.

To burn 1 kg of gasoline completely, it will take 3.4 kg of oxygen or about 15 kg (12 m3) of air. The substances contained in the products of fuel combustion, including vehicle emissions, may cause progressive damage to the central nervous system, liver, kidneys, brain, genitals, lethargy, Parkinson's, pneumonia, endemic ataxia, gout, bronchial cancer, dermatitis, intoxication, allergies, respiratory and other diseases. The probability of disease increases with increasing exposure time of harmful substances and rise of their concentration, as, for example, it occurs in modern cities.

That is why the transition to SkyWay transport and SkyWay technologies is the only right way out in this situation. This will save 31.2 billion tons of fuel per year on 25 million kilometers of high-speed roads. Accordingly, we do not need 106 billion it tons of oxygen to burn.  And they will be used for 67 billion people to breathe. In addition, eliminating the annual burning of 31.2 billion tons of fuel will save us from releasing more than 100 toxic and carcinogenic substances into the environment.

Annual combustion of additional 31.2 billion tons of fuel together with 106 billion tons of atmospheric oxygen would give 31.2 + 106 = 137.2 billion tons of additional waste.

The construction of 25 million km of high-speed overpasses will not require additional hundreds billions tons of metal and cubic meters of concrete. There will be no need to extract dozens billions tons of oil and other energy resources. No need in billions kilowatts of excess power to drive rolling stock. The environment will not be contaminated with any products of fuel combustion or loud noise.

Earth mounds of railways (including high-speed ones) and highways cover, that is, subtract at least 4 hectares of soil on each kilometer of length. If 25 million km of high-speed intercity and international string routes are built worldwide, it will save about 1 million square kilometers of soil from destruction. At the average cost of the soil withdrawn for construction of USD 1 million/ha, the cost of the saved land will amount to USD 100 trillion, and at the cost of USD 10 million/ha in the future (the cost of land constantly grows) — USD 1,000 trillion. That is without mentioning the environmental problems that this soil further removed from the terrestrial biosphere would create on such vast territories, as described above.

The environmental benefits of introducing SkyWay technologies are enormous. Another environmental advantage of string technologies is resource savings in mass production of rolling stock.

As it becomes clear, SkyWay is really able to affect the environmental situation in the world, not only in terms of reducing emissions into the atmosphere, but also in terms of saving soils. And all this with tangible economic benefits.

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Ljubomir Dukic
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02 October 2019
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