It is no secret that one of the largest wars we are fighting right now is the climate crisis. Cities are burning, species are dying, ice caps are melting away, and gas emissions are skyrocketing. The recent reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes it alarmingly clear that we are running out of time. And the culprits are undeniable; the activities of humans who are disrupting every inch of this plant’s land, sea, and air.
Hundreds of top scientists are warning everyone that the crisis is not to be taken lightly. If the planet’s heat increases to above 1.5 C, then we may not be able to go back. And the sooner people realize and accept this the better. Due to the acceleration in melting ice caps, trillions of tonnes of water was poured into the oceans where oxygen levels are depleting and acidity is rising.
The mild and temperate climate in which civilization began is no longer safe as greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, and a multitude of other human activities repeatedly put the planet in danger. I am afraid to open the news these days because most of the time they are reporting on heatwaves, floods, forest fires, etc. How long will it take before people realize that the climate crisis is very much real? Mother Nature has been screaming for help, but it looks like no one is ready to listen.
For many people, their cars or other motorized vehicles are their go-to for transportation. Even with many cities providing local public transportation, many still choose to use their own private transport. But could this decision be harming the planet? One of the world’s largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions is private transportation.
The transport sectors in countries like the United Kingdom and the United States, are responsible for emitting the most greenhouse gases compared to any other countries. That’s right, the transport sector is harming the planet much more than electricity production and even agriculture. And globally speaking, the transport sector makes up about a quarter of carbon dioxide emissions. From cars to trucks to buses to motorbikes, these vehicles account for about three quarters of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. But is it possible to live in a world that does not have any motorized vehicles at all?
To answer that question, I want to share a quick story with you all. My family and I recently took a trip to Mackinac Island in Michigan. And boy was I happily surprised to see that the island had no motorized vehicles whatsoever. Everyone on the island was either walking, cycling, or riding on a horse-drawn carriage. And as a result of this, the overall environment of the island was clean, peaceful, and inviting. The moment I got off the ferry a sweet breath of air ran to hug me and it was a delight. Even the flowers on the island were so vibrant and exuberant. For a second I thought someone had put a saturated filter on them.
I never wanted to leave that island because I felt that this was what living on Earth was supposed to feel like. No noise pollution, no air pollution. When I returned home after my trip I started to wonder what our day to day lives would be like if we didn’t have motorized vehicles. Would life be easier? Or would it give rise to other issues? But it can’t be worse than what we are already doing. In the United States, the average vehicle releases about 650g of CO2/km. And as the vehicle size increases, so do the emissions. Because our society is so accustomed to private transport, a shift to owning no motorized vehicles at all would be too drastic. But there are some things we can do to help us get closer to life on Mackinac Island.
Whether it be a 2 mile journey or 200 mile journey, our first instinct is to always take out our cars. We don’t even stop to consider other routes of transport. In major cities like New York, Chicago, Mumbai, New Delhi, public transport is everywhere, yet you will still find people using their private transports to travel. Some small thing we can do everyday to decrease our personal carbon emissions is by finding alternatives to motorized vehicles.
Whether it be to the grocery store, to school, or even to work, if you have the option to walk or even bike then please do. It is easy to complain that the world is going for a toss and nothing we do can stop the climate crisis, but if you really want to help the planet you will find a way. Countries like the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany are already doing their part by increasing their bike production and investing in cycling infrastructure. What I am suggesting is not something unheard of, all we have to do is take that step.
But why should we limit our efforts to just everyday life when we can also apply it to our vacations? Just like we need a break now and then, the Earth does too. Mackinac Island is not the only place on this planet that banned all motorized vehicles. Sark, Venice, Fes el-Bali, La Cumbrecita, Hydra, Bald Head Island, and Giethoorn to name a few are some places that do not allow any vehicles. All you need are your feet to travel these beautiful places. What better way to spend your holidays than by relaxing and helping save our planet.