Privately Owned Gasoline Powered Vehicles Should Be

Limited Essay, Research Paper

Privately Owned Gasoline Powered Vehicles Should Be Limited

February 25, 1995

Social Studies 10H

The automobile has become a very important part of today’s society. It

is a necessity to own or to have access to a car in order to keep up with all of

the competition of the business world, and also one’s social demands. Most

people would not be able to travel around a country or the world without this

incredible machine, for it provides freedom and mobility, even for people who do

not own a car. Unfortunately, the car has a very destructive nature.

Automobiles make a major contribution to air and noise pollution, depletion of

fossil fuels, and to the abnormalities in children and adults due to lead

poisoning. In order to stop this devastation, the use of gas powered

automobiles must be limited by replacing them with alternative modes of

transportation, or by finding a way to ease them out of utilization.

There are many reasons why the number of privately owned gasoline

powered cars on the road should be limited. First of all, and most importantly,

automobiles are harmful to our environment. Automobiles run on gasoline, which

is a mixture derived from petroleum. Gasoline contains hundreds of different

hydrocarbons, or compounds containing the chemical elements carbon and

hydrogen(Gasoline). When the gas is burned in the engine of the car, several

byproducts result. These exhausts include hydrocarbons and oxides of three

elements: Carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur(Emissions). Tiny amounts of poisonous

trace elements such as lead, cadmium, and nickel also are present. Everything

contained in the exhaust affects the environment intensely. Auto engine exhaust

contributes about 50% of today’s atmospheric pollution, and in highly populated

and industrialized cities, air pollution consists of up to 80% car exhaust.

Because of all of the gasoline powered cars on the road, the earth’s

outermost protective shell, the ozone layer, is being destroyed. The ozone

layer guards against, among other things, global warming and skin cancer(Fisher

14). If it is annihilated, the whole planet, including the human race, will be

erased along with it. This is one reason gasoline powered automobiles should be


The automobile also contributes to noise pollution. Cities around the

world are constantly packed with cars, and, as a result, there are traffic jams.

Patience, as a virtue, is not always bestowed on everyone, and, therefore,

people start honking their horns and yelling at others. This produces a

polyphonic sound that is not very pleasing to anyone, especially those in the

traffic jam who have already had a stressful day at work. Obviously, this is

not the fault of the automobile itself, but the fault of the owners. If there

were a limit on the number of cars allowed on such public roads as Fifth Avenue

or the Henry Hudson Parkway in New York City, noise pollution, and air pollution,

for that matter, would not be a major factor of environmental degradation.

Another reason privately owned gasoline powered vehicles should be

limited is the depletion of the fossil fuel supply. People all over the world

need petroleum, a fossil fuel, to fill their cars in order to get around.

However, petroleum, like many other natural resources on this earth, is in short

supply. The continued use of petroleum at the current rate will cause the

limited supply to dwindle. Our society does not seem to realize this point,

though, and, as a result, petroleum is wasted in many ways while en route to an

automobile’s gas tank.

Oil companies transport petroleum all over the world by many means. Over

the years, some methods have proved to be dangerous, such as the truck, train,

tanker, or boat. A clear example of this danger occurred when the Exxon Valdez

tanker ran aground in March of 1989(Nadis 16). The Valdez was carrying 11

million gallons of oil, and a drunk captain, across the Prince William Sound at

the time of the disaster. All 11 million gallons poured out, thereafter seen

only upon the thousands of species of animals that this accident destroyed. A

total ecological system was wiped out from a shipment of oil meant for


Oil is not only lost in transport, though. Storage tanks can waste

quite a lot of petroleum without anyone knowing about it, but, at the same time,

polluting the environment. Seventeen million gallons of oil have leaked from a

storage tank of a service station in Brooklyn, New York(Nadis 17). A similar

situation has occurred in El Segundo, California, but on a much grander scale.

A two hundred million gallon pool lies underneath a service station there, and

twenty eight million gallons of that has oozed closer to the San Francisco Bay,

endangering water supplies(17). Among the nearly six million underground oil

tanks that exist in this country, five hundred thousand are believed to be

leaking at the moment, wasting millions of gallons of petroleum that could be

used to heat houses and fuel industries(17). However, this natural resource

sits under gas stations, waiting to be pumped into a car. Instead of oil

helping humanity, the loss of oil hurts it.

A third reason privately owned gasoline powered vehicles should be

limited is because they are contributing to an enormous source of lead in the

air, which is dangerous to the body. When gasoline is burned in the engine of

an automobile, it can release many things, dependent upon what type of gasoline

it is. There are two main types of gasoline, leaded and unleaded. The leaded

contains lead, while the unleaded does not contain as much. Fortunately, most

cars today require gasoline of the unleaded type. However, some old cars still

in use need leaded fuel(52). This poses a threat to every person in the world,

for every one of us could die of lead poisoning.

Lead was first added to gasoline in the 1920’s to improve car mileage

and prevent engine knock, or an explosion that occurs when the gas is compressed

in the engine(Applebee 2). Lead levels in human blood rose with the

proliferation of cars and trucks on the highway(2). It has since been proved

that auto emissions are the single largest source of lead in our environment,

and that high levels of lead in young children can cause brain damage, mental

retardation, kidney disorders, and interfere with the processing of Vitamin

D(Applebee 2; Gurman 2).

Because of the preponderance of unleaded fuel on the market, the amount

of lead in the air has decreased. But does this mean that the chance of lead

poisoning from car exhaust has decreased dramatically? Not at all. Over twenty

percent of lead poisoning cases in children reported in 1990 have been caused by

car exhaust, dropping only five percent from 1985 (Nadis 55). This produces

evidence that many, if not all, of the ways to reduce lead in the air that is

harmful to humans have failed.

All of these matters indicate one thing: The automobile hurts the earth

and its people environmentally and physically. In order to stop these things

from occurring, we, the entire population as a whole, must consolidate our

opinions and come up with alternatives to these harmful activities.

One such alternative is the electrically powered automobile, which runs

on a battery much the same as the one underneath the hood of the car now(72). It

even looks like a regular car. However, there are differences. The one major

difference of the electric car from the gasoline powered car is that the

electric car is emission free(73). However, the electric car cannot be

implemented into our society because it does not run as long as the gasoline

powered vehicles do. Despite this fact, if this type of car were substituted

for gasoline powered cars, the environment would be on its way to becoming


If the electric car is not utilized, some measures must be taken in

order to cut down air pollution. One way to do this would be to use cleaner

burning fuels than what is used now, which is a mixture of many

hydrocarbons(Gasoline). The highest quality fuel that can be obtained is iso-

octane, which is given a rating of 100. The lowest quality fuel is heptane,

which is graded 0. The gasoline that we pump into our cars is a mixture that is

compared to the performance of both of these fuels. For example, an octane

number of 89 means that it compares to a mixture of 89 percent iso-octane and 11

percent heptane. In order to cut down on air pollution, all gas that is pumped

out of a station should be graded 95 or higher.

However, gasoline is never completely burned in the engine of a car, no

matter how high the quality(Air Pollution). This is why alternatives must be

considered in order to maintain a healthy environment. These alternatives

include hydrocarbons like ethanol and methanol, solar power, and steam power.

These solutions are aimed at the future, though. What can we do now to

cut down on the amount of automobiles on the road? One thing that could be done

is to limit the use of privately owned gasoline powered cars to specific days of

the week, as was done in the 1970’s. Still another way would be to restrict

each family to one automobile. It will be tough to inject these solutions into

our society, but if enough support is extended from the population, the plans

could work.

Gottlieb Daimler invented the automobile in 1885 on the principle that

it would be of help to everyone. It was seen as that for almost half a century,

and then, all of a sudden, people started realizing its harmful effects. People

felt the heaviness of the air, heard the noise on the streets, and discovered

the harmful effects of lead. All of these things were rightfully blamed on the

automobile, a machine that had transformed a relatively unpolluted earth into a

contaminated sphere. It will be hard to mend all of these problems, though,

because many of them are interrelated. However, a good start is to limit the

ownership and use of privately owned gasoline powered automobiles. This will

make difficulties like air pollution, noise pollution, natural resource

depletion, and lead poisoning much easier to control and eventually do away with

in the future.

Works Cited

Alternative Fuels. Compton’s Encyclopedia, Online Edition. Downloaded from

America Online, February 6, 1995.

Applebee, Liana. The Car-Friend and Foe. Social Issues Resources Series, 1980.

Automobile History: Alternatives to Gasoline. Compton’s Encyclopedia, Online

Edition. Downloaded from America Online, February 6, 1995.

Automobile Industry Model Design: Emissions. Compton’s Encyclopedia, Online

Edition. Downloaded from America Online, February 6, 1995.

Automobile Power Plant: Exhaust System. Compton’s Encyclopedia, Online Edition.

Downloaded from America Online, February 6, 1995.

Environmental Pollution: Air Pollution.


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