News / Health

Environmentalists Worried Over Increased Production of Autos

Zulima Palacio
The production of passenger vehicles around the world reached an all-time high this year: 80 million new cars and light trucks, according to a study by the Worldwatch Institute in Washington.  The new production record is heightening concerns among environmentalists, since petroleum-fueled automobiles are a major source of air pollution and climate-changing carbon emissions.

With the new cars and light trucks added to the global fleet, the world is nearing a milestone - one billion vehicles on the roads. Most are petroleum-fueled internal combustion engines, whose emissions cause environmental problems like air pollution and contribute to global warming.  

Michael Renner of the Worldwatch Institute, wrote the analysis of worldwide auto production.

The strongest producer by far right now is China, which had a tremendous period of growth over the last decade and have overtaken Germany, Japan and the U.S., which used to be the three big producers worldwide," Renner said.

Hybrid and electric vehicles represent less than two percent of the total output, the study says.  

But representatives of the auto industry say they care about the environment.  Steven Brooks, an analyst at Edmunds.com, which compiles data on the automobile market, says the industry is responding to the desire for greener products.

“There are 43 different vehicles that are going to get introduced into the shopping arena by the end of 2015, like this Honda CR-Z here. This is a hybrid electric vehicle,” Brooks said.

But Renner says unless we move to cleaner and more efficient fuels, as well as alternative propulsion systems, electric cars won't solve the environmental problem.

“If we don’t significantly change the bases on which our electricity systems are functioning, in other words if we use large amounts of coal and fossil fuels to produce electricity, then going with the electrical vehicles is not getting us all that far,” Renner said.   

Industry experts say hydrogen fuel cells and experimental new materials, such as strong, lightweight magnesium and carbon composites, could dramatically improve energy efficiency in tomorrow's passenger vehicles.  But such improvements are still years away.  In today's car market, Steven Brooks says, gasoline prices are still driving people’s vehicle choices.

“The mid-size sedans are still the number-one-selling segment in the country, but the adoption of the small and hybrid vehicles is on the rise as the gas prices go up,” Brooks said.

According to the United Nations, emissions from road transport constitute more than 20 percent of greenhouse gases.  

The Worldwatch study notes that even in developing countries, car travel distances have doubled in the past decade. Experts agree that to counter the public health and environmental impact of this trend, governments must develop better systems of public transportation.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs