Book excerpt: Imagine It! A Handbook for a Happier Planet

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From the chapter “Our Transportation Footprint”

“The eyes of all future generations are upon you.”

  –Greta Thunberg

FACT: One gas-powered car emits, on average, five tons of carbon dioxide per year. That’s equivalent to burning 5,500 pounds of coal. 

FACT: A container ship can outpollute 50 million cars. 

FACT: Almost 30 percent of all greenhouse gases are created by transportation.

FACT: Traffic areas around schools — where vehicles are often left idling — [contribute to] significantly higher pollution inside school buildings.

A short story on fossil-fuel-based transportation

Transportation is a major contributor to carbon emissions, and reducing them is essential to tackling our climate crisis. Cars, trucks, planes, and ships, all of which run on fossil fuels, now produce more planet-warming pollution than power plants. 

Governments can help by developing smarter and cleaner public transit infrastructure (i.e., trains and buses that quickly and conveniently connect people with their destinations, enhanced walking and biking paths) and by incentivizing the adoption of electric vehicles; but individuals also have an important role to play in reducing transportation-based carbon emissions. 

Let’s break this down. 

The story on cars and trucks is simple. Cars and trucks account for nearly one-fifth of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions … People in communities of color are, once again, disproportionately exposed to higher levels of this air pollution where they live or work. 

The sooner we transition to clean-fuel cars and trucks, the better for our planet and all its people …

It was inspiring in the midst of the loss and grief wrought by the pandemic to see the skies clearing, hear the songbirds, see fishes and dolphins swimming in rivers and estuaries they had abandoned. So, imagine replacing parking lots, bumper-to-bumper traffic, and exposure to climate- and people-harming air pollution with more pocket parks, green spaces, bike lanes, farmers markets, and pedestrian paths. 

Find Imagine It! at Bunch of Grapes, Edgartown Books, Grey Barn, and Lennox and Harvey. Imagine It! is published by Penguin Random House.

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Laurie David and Heather Reisman
Laurie David and Heather Reisman are the authors of "Imagine It! A Handbook for a Happier Planet."

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