2017 Apr 24
So it’s Monday morning and you’re late to work. There’s a petrol station strike and your tank’s almost empty. Does it feel like you’re still trapped in last night’s nightmare?
Sitting in the mile-long petrol pumping line and avoiding calls from my boss, my mind wanders. Earth Day just passed by recently and it got me thinking about nature (as days created for remembering and appreciating nature do) and it made me think of cars during the 1930s and 40s. They were called Gasoline Guzzlers because, as the name suggests, they guzzled an awful amount of gas. This led to an immense increase in carbon dioxide levels as at the time vehicles were not at all designed with fumes and waste in mind. As such, they had a tremendously negative impact on the environment.
The fumes released when a vehicle burns fuel is one of the major contributors to global warming. The more we use automobiles, the more we hurt our environment. But, vehicles are awfully convenient aren’t they? Let’s say you live in Rajagiriya and you want to go over to Kollupitya. By car, the journey would take you about 15 minutes. Fairly standard right? Now let’s imagine that suddenly, without any explanation (mostly because I doubt I’m clever enough to imagine a reason for all vehicles suddenly disappearing from the Earth) all vehicles vanish. Poof. Gone. Now picture that same journey I mentioned earlier without any vehicles. It would take you roughly 1 hour and 20 minutes. At least you would have a nice view as you trudged over to Kollupitya on your hour long trek.
So, giving up vehicles entirely doesn’t seem like a practical solution in our fast moving world. Let’s say you still want to help. How could you reduce your Carbon Footprint?
Well, we could start right there. The Carbon Footprint. Essentially, it is the amount of CO2 you are responsible for releasing into the atmosphere. So how would you know what your Carbon Footprint is? That might be difficult to determine exactly, but it is not so for your car due to the existence of Eco-Care Stations. There are emission testing centres peppered around the country and they are places you might want to visit if you are mindful of your impact on the environment. They check your car and determine the level of damage it causes to the environment and suggests actions you could take to curtail the damage done to the environment.
Another step you could take is to keep your car tuned up. By this I mean do a regular check on your vehicle. If it runs as efficiently as it can, then there would be just that little amount of waste reduced; which could have a large positive impact in the future.
Alternatively, you could also plan ahead for the best possible route because, as I said, earlier, efficiency leads to less waste, which could impact the environment in a positive way in the long run. The thing about planning routes is that once planned for, you may be able to avoid those pesky traffic jams. It helps to make sure your engine is never idle for too long because you are just sitting there and burning fuel- which thoroughly contradicts what I said about efficiency.
Now here’s my final tip, and I saved the most controversial for last- Turn off that A/C.
Yes, you read right. Turn it off. “But writer,” you moan, “How are we supposed to survive Sri Lanka’s scalding hot weather without the A/C?” Your concerns are valid and acknowledged, random reader, but moaning won’t save the planet. I am not saying you must not use the A/C at all. Doing so would make me a hypocrite. I’m saying limit its use and only turn it on when you feel your flesh is medium rare. Perhaps a slight exaggeration but it does get the point across.
A century and a half later, I’ve finally topped up my fuel tank and I’m on my way to work. If you follow these tips, your Gas Guzzler is sure to be a bit more mindful of the environment and out-of-the-blue fuel strikes will leave you worry-less. Think smart, Sri Lanka.