Its that Simple
As a driver, apart from giving up driving, the biggest contribution to you can make today to cutting your greenhouse gas emissions is keeping to 80km/hr as your top speed on all roads. The second thing you can do is check your tyre pressures are correct.
What happens when you slow down to 80 km/hr as your top speed?
Immediately you will cut your emissions. Because wind resistance intensifies the faster you go. More power is needed for every km speed you increase beyond the optimum of 80km/hr.There are slight variations in different cars but lets not split hairs.
In the longterm you will cut the distances you travel. This is due to the phenomenon known as The Constant Travel Time Budget. Simply meaning we are prepared to spend a certain amount of time travelling in our daily routine but no more. Averaged over the whole population this works out at around 65 minutes per day.
With all the extra speed we have achieved, we still spend the same amount of time travelling as we did in the 1950s !
So we may assume that if we cut our speed to a max of 80km/hr we will also cut our distances travelled. This will all be done unconsciously.
The rise of better and faster means of transport has only resulted in covering longer distances and making more journeys rather than a decrease in time spent on travelling. We never got to save the time we hoped to by travelling faster!
Effects on air quality:
Transport has important effects on air quality. Road traffic is connected to the emissions of PM10 (particle matter) and NOx (nitrogen oxides). As with CO2, the emission of these particulates will decrease when a lower speed is established. However, there will be an even greater decrease than for CO2. The reason for this is that at higher speeds and larger driving dynamics the emission of PM10 and NOx increase faster than fuel consumption and CO2 emission
Join the movement to cut road transport's emissions by a third. Already 1208 people have pledged to drive no faster than 80km/hr on all roads. Get on the map.
Fill out form below and we will send you stickers for your back window and steering wheel to help you keep your pledge
Stickers to help remind you and promote the initiative. One for your steering wheel and one for you back window. Membership and stickers only 5 euro.
Q. Why then is there a problem?
Since the industrial revolution, back in the mid 1700s, we have been adding to those greenhouse gases gases by burning fossil fuels. These fuels took millions of years to form by taking CO2 out of our atmosphere and burying it underground thus cooling the planet.
Burning them releases greenhouse gases back into our atmosphere where they stay for hundreds of years warming the planet. Their concentrations are now 43% higher than in 1750.
The 'duvet' now has a higher 'tog' rating!
Q.What is in our atmosphere that prevents heat loss and makes our planet habitable?
A..Water vapour and certain gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide are the main greenhouse gases. They all delay heat from being dispersed back out to space too quickly. They keep our planet at temperatures suitable for life, as we know it. The different amounts of these gases in the atmosphere have remained stable for hundreds of thousands of years. We have thrived as a result.
Q.Why is our planet the temperature it is?
A.Space is minus 270 degrees Celsius. Unimaginably cold! It has nothing to absorb heat. Our planet occupies a tiny part of that space and because it has substance it can absorb heat from the sun. Our atmosphere has just the right constituents to prevent that heat from instantly escaping.
Without our atmosphere our planet would be about 30 degrees colder than it is now. It acts like a duvet keeping the heat from dispersing too quickly. If your duvet is too thin the heat escapes too quickly and you get cold. If it is too thick you get too hot
Q. How are greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide formed?
A.When oil, gas coal etc. are burned the carbon in the fuel combines with oxygen in the air to produce carbon dioxide (CO2), which is a compound of one atom of carbon and two of oxygen.
Q.How do green house gases warm the Earth?
Radiation (heat) from the sun passes through the atmosphere and the Earth absorbs it in much the same way as you get heated standing by a fire.
When you turn away from the fire you emit some of that heat back into the air and the side that was heated cools down. Likewise as the Earth rotates away from the sun it also cools. Depending on how much clothes you wear you will cool down faster or slower. Greenhouse gases are like the clothes of the Earth and prevent it from freezing. Depending on how much green house gases are in the atmosphere the Earth will cool more or less.
The particular mechanism of CO2, as a green house gas, is that it prevents the long waves of infrared radiation from leaving the Earth. They bounce off the CO2 molecules and return to Earth.
Q.why does this matter?
More heat means more energy. More energy in our weather systems causes more ‘energetic’ events such as hurricanes, flooding and wild fires.
Increased heat in our oceans causes the sea to expand resulting in rising sea levels.
Increased heat causes the melting of ice in our polar regions and in high altitude glaciers causing sea level rise and shortage of fresh water from the glaciers as they recede.
Due to the complex and dynamic nature of our climates and weather systems, global warming can cause climate changes anywhere in the world. More droughts sometimes, more rain other times and rising sea levels everywhere.
As most of the populations of the world live in coastal cities this is a serious concern.
Consider, it took millions of years for fossil fuels to be formed from dead vegetation and animal remains and we are burning it in a matter of a couple of hundred years. Look at a lump of coal and how you can in a matter of minutes destroy something that took millions of years to form. The wonder is that anyone could imagine that there would not be consequences.
Q. What are the other consequences of increased greenhouse gases?
Water when heated evaporates. The Earth is 75% covered in water. More heat causes more evaporation, and more evaporation causes more water vapour. Water vapour is the most powerful of all greenhouse gases and retains the most heat.
We are now locked into a vicious cycle of higher CO2 levels causing an enhanced greenhouse effect thus causing more evaporation resulting in higher densities of water vapour. The increased water vapour increases the greenhouse effect and so on. this could not be more serious. Unless we move now to reduce our CO2 emissions to zero we are condemning our children and countless descendants to a very dangerous life on planet Earth.
Our oak trees take more carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere in Ireland than any other. Plant one today.
Acorns from the Glen of the Downs planted in Autumn 2017 will be planted around the country as part of the long term strategy to mitigate climate change.
Oak trees take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it for hundreds of years.
They provide habitat for over 400 species.
Plant one and send us the GPS location to put on our map above.
Click on map and see where they have been planted so far. If you wish we will plant one for you in Co Wicklow. Fill out the form above and leave a note in the comment box.
Trees for smaller gardens
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REDUCING IRELAND’S CO2 EMISSIONS FROM A JUSTICE PERSPECTIVE