Cars are a genuine dichotomy. Yes, on the one hand, they can provide a better standard of living, with recreation, access to better stores, and the freedom to move where we want, when we want. On the flip side, though, they can rob us of our health and produce a colossal amount of pollution. It’s this last aspect that worries most sane people.
Yet the UAE is a nation of car lovers and car enthusiasts – it has become a Middle Eastern Los Angeles; everyone drives everywhere. So the question is, are its citizens committed enough to save the planet or, on a more personal level, save their children and grandchildren?
One student at Delhi Private School Sharjah (DPS Sharjah), Rishi Bhatnagar of Grade 11, is certainly committed; he has made a smart device to reduce and monitor pollution from vehicle exhausts after seeing the smog in his home city of New Delhi, India. The pipe-like device, which fits at the end of the exhaust, can also generate electricity, which can be supplied to the vehicle’s battery and used to power a communication system that will send exhaust readings to a smart app.
The prototype, called the ‘Engine Fumes Absorber and Electricity Generator’, is being tested in DPS Sharjah school buses. Tests on his father’s car showed around a 95% reduction in carbon-monoxide, a main pollutant from vehicle exhaust, using filters in the device.
Ride the Bus
Studies have been done all over the world that point to a huge improvement in health and the fight to save the planet if we were all to switch to public transport. In the UK, for instance, where, according to the Confederation of British Industry, congestion costs business an estimated £15 billion (AED 72.22 billion) per year, air pollution causes 40,000 premature deaths in the same period. Many deaths result from heart attacks and respiratory disease. Indeed, of Britain’s 5.4 million asthma sufferers, two-thirds say that poor air quality makes their condition worse.
Fewer cars on the road would reduce harmful emissions, as well as improve congestion. Cycling and walking are the most environmentally-friendly ways to get around. They’re good for your health and produce no harmful pollution. But if this is impractical, public transport – principally the bus and the metro in the UAE – can help reduce your environmental impact significantly.
At present, though, too few people care about the environment; they may pay lip service and recycle their paper cups, but beyond that, it’s all too much of a bother. Drivers have an extensive range of models available at a variety of price points too, ensuring they can choose a vehicle that suits their needs and their budget at any given life stage. It’s all so easy.
But there are a few potential solutions to the car pollution problem, and it’s not just a change of fuel. To bring about a transport revolution, we have to transform our attitude toward cars and rethink their role in our lives. That might be a harder change than any other. Yet riding public transport, when you can, is beneficial in numerous ways. It’s cost-effective, particularly with soaring petrol prices. It also moderates your stress levels; someone else is driving. And, it goes a long way toward helping the environment; it conserves natural resources, lowers air pollution and harmful ozone levels. When it comes to the environment, using public transport makes a big difference.