While the large oil spills that we often hear about on the news only account for 12% of the oil in our oceans, three times as much oil is carried out to sea from oil runoff, which comes from roads, drainpipes, and rivers. This can largely be attributed to cars and other vehicles, as oil runoff from land can come from motor oil. While the two may not seem obviously related, car pollution has a lot to do with how our oceans are polluted. From oil runoff to the harmful effects of carbon emissions and how they affect marine life, here’s what’s happening and what can be done about it.
Car pollution and our oceans
80% of pollution to marine environments comes from land sources, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This includes oil runoff, which takes place when the motor oil is leaked onto the ground or is dumped into drains that lead to our oceans. Other forms of car pollution can also cause sea levels to rise. This is because car pollution contributes to global warming, which can lead to the melting of polar ice and glaciers. In turn, this causes sea levels to rise, which can have a negative impact on everything from coastal infrastructure to humanity and marine life.
A negative impact on marine life
Car pollution has a huge impact on the ocean and the marine life within it. One of the biggest reasons for this is to do with how the emissions are absorbed by the ocean, with plants holding onto it. In doing so, the pollution alters the water’s chemistry and results in ocean acidification. This has a devastating effect on coral reefs and marine life such as shellfish, as they are corroded and destroyed. Oil runoff can also have a negative impact on marine life, as it can stick to a bird’s feathers, kill fish, and restrict the blowholes of sea mammals while rising sea levels destroy coastal habitats located farther inland.
A solution – and what you can do
Due to the prominence and devastating effects that car pollution can have on the environment, one of the most logical things that can be done to improve the situation is to reduce carbon emissions as much as possible. One innovative way to do just that is to make the switch to electric vehicles or hybrid electric cars. While they are often more pricey, the investment can prove to be well worth it. For example, many hybrid electric cars can significantly cut down on fuel usage by allowing drivers to take short trips using just the battery pack without putting out carbon emissions. However, there are also other ways to help reduce car pollution in your day to day life that are worth keeping in mind.
For instance, if you live in a large metropolitan city and are accustomed to using ride-hail services (such as Uber, Lyft or taxis), carpooling and splitting the cost of the ride is an eco-friendly (and even safer) alternative to taking a ride by yourself. Another way to reduce car pollution in your daily life is to take public transportation. Trains, subways, and even buses are not only better for the environment, but can be cheaper, too – especially if you invest in a metro card or bus pass and use it frequently. And, for short trips, a bicycle can cut out carbon emissions completely while giving you a good workout at the same time.
Unfortunately, car pollution plays a major part in pollution around the world, which has a negative effect on our oceans and marine life. However, by reducing carbon emissions through innovations like electric cars, as well as making simple alternative choices in our day to take public transportation and carpool more often, we can help the environment and its future.