Drive less and save the oceans.


We all know that cars are a major source of the heat-trapping pollutant carbon dioxide (CO2) and the lung irritant nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Cars, in fact, contribute a very significant one-third of our overall CO2 output each year. But what we are only now realizing is that CO2 and NO2 emissions are damaging ocean health, which is critical to all life.

As discussed here, scientists are discovering that our oceans, a natural sink for CO2, are becoming more acidic as they absorb the excess CO2 being emitted by the burning of fossil fuels. In fact, ocean acidity has increased 30 percent over the 250 years since the industrial revolution began, and researchers predict that if carbon emissions continue at their current rate, ocean acidity will more than double by 2100. A more acidic ocean is not good; it could wipe out species; disrupt the food web; and impact fishing, tourism and any other human endeavor that relies on the sea.

Meanwhile, NO2 emissions from cars, as well as other sources, are transported via jet streams and rain to the oceans, where they feed algal blooms that deprive water of oxygen and kill off other living organisms. NO2 emissions may account for more than 25 percent of the nitrogen buildup that causes these oceanic dead zones. Harmful algal blooms affect human health as well, producing bacterial toxins and other organisms that can cause asthma attacks, gastrointestinal problems and skin rashes.

Cut down on driving and help protect the ocean. If you can walk or bike to work or to run errands, you will see improvements to your health and also save money. Taking public transportation will save you money too.