It’s only rained twice this summer—once for 22 days and again for 35. Although some may argue that global warming is a myth, the long frigid winters and irregular weather patterns are undeniable; and one cause of this erratic weather is the emission of greenhouse gases.
So what are greenhouse gases, and how do they contribute to global warming? Essentially, greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, are released from human activity, which are then absorbed into the atmosphere effecting the amount of solar radiation that enters and leaves the atmosphere. The imbalance of UV rays are what then sets forth gradual changes in the oceans, ice caps and atmosphere, in turn altering all variations of ecosystems.
However, global warming isn’t a new phenomenon. Back in 1896, scientist and physicist Svante Arrhenius proposed that the production of carbon dioxide contributed to greenhouse gases, which then in turn initiate long-term climate changes.
In an effort to reduce these carbon emissions, the Obama administration is enforcing stricter fuel standards for medium- and heavy-duty fleet trucks. The goal is to eliminate 1 billion tons of emissions and improve fuel efficiency, which would eventually cut fuel costs by about $170 billion. The change is set to take effect for trailers built between 2018 and 2027, specifically requiring class 8 trucks to increase their fuel economy by nearly 40 percent, when compared to levels in 2010.
Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said in a statement that “Analysis shows that we can reduce new truck fuel consumption 40 percent by 2025 — faster than the administration suggests. We look forward to engaging with the agencies to strengthen these standards.”
Tractor-trailers now average 5 to 6 miles per gallon of diesel; the new rule would require that average to be 9 miles a gallon. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the transportation sector is the second largest contributor to the U.S. carbon footprint, with medium- and heavy-duty trucks emitting about 20 percent of the sector’s carbon pollution—even though these trucks account for just 5 percent of the vehicles on the road.
In a statement, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said, “When trucks use less fuel, shipping costs go down. It’s good news all around, especially for anyone with an online shopping habit.”
This move could also reduce oil consumption by up to 1.8 billion barrels over the lifetime of vehicles sold within the program. Although the initial cost to build the trucks will be roughly $26.1 billion, fuel savings and other benefits will give the U.S. economy $242 billion over the lifetime of trucks built between 2018 and 2017 within the new fuel standards, according to an impact analysis from the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation.
With the anticipated deadline of this bill estimated between March 2016 and January 2017, the plan may fall into the hands of the next presidential administration, but hopefully, the new administration shares the same concern for environmental protection and continues to improve fuel standards and reduce the impacts of climate change.