U.S. states are beginning to attack another major source of global warming pollution besides power plants: your car. David Biello reports Cars in California offer a new kind of sticker shock this year: carbon. In addition to the familiar smog ratings, labels on new Cali cars rank them 1 to 10 based on greenhouse gas emissions. The best, a perfect 10, will emit less than 200 grams of greenhouse gases per mile. The bad ones more than 520. Vermont will also begin offering the labels next year. And the 11 states that compose the northeastern region of the U.S. are also attacking the problem at the source: fuel. The states plan to develop new standards for biofuels and other alternatives that will reduce the greenhouse gases emitted when burned in a car, a furnace or a factory. These states already cooperate in a cap-and-trade scheme to limit the carbon dioxide emitted by power plants. Other regions, including California and other western states, are copying that plan. U.S. power plants released roughly 2.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2007 generating our electricity. But our vehicles were the second largest source of America’s greenhouse gases. Tailpipes spewed out 1.2 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide from burning gasoline. The easy-to-interpret labels—10 is great, 1 is bad—aim to change that. By reminding us to keep emissions in mind next time we buy a car. —David Biello
http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode.cfm?id=carbon-dioxide-from-cars-09-01-08 Scrubbing the Skies
Pulling CO2 back out of the air might be easier
than building jets and cars that don’t emit it.
Every time you drive to work, or worse yet, fly on a plane, the vehicle emits carbon dioxide that will stay in the atmosphere, warming the planet for thousands of years. Does it have to? Trees can take CO2 back out again—but even covering the planet with forests wouldn’t solve our problem, and there would be an awful lot of wood to preserve. (If...