Pros and cons of banning gasoline-powered cars

With many countries working to ban the new production of gas-powered cars, some people are optimistic while others are not so sure. It’s honestly great that companies are becoming more aware of the ramifications of which the production of their goods have on the environment.

With the rise in air pollution becoming a problem, many states are planning to face this situation by placing a ban on further production of gas-powered cars. For instance, California’s plan is to enforce the ban by the year 2023, as the problems of wildfires become an all-time high, even though many climate change skeptics would say otherwise.

“We have a strategy to be as bold as the problem is big, to recognize that we have agency,” California Governor Gavin Newsom announced at a news conference, as he stood before a glittering half circle of electric cars, according to the New York Times.

However, research conducted by the United States Environmental Protection Agency has shown that from 1990 to 2018, the air quality in the United States has gotten better. The substantial difference is especially seen within carbon monoxide levels that have dropped by 74% and lead has decreased by 82%. Nowadays, highway vehicles that run on petroleum have the highest emission levels amongst motor vehicles, especially regarding carbon monoxide (at 35.8% above the average) and oxides of nitrogen (32.3% over average), as well as many other toxic air pollutants.

Gas-powered vehicles emit 8,887 grams of carbon dioxide per gallon of gasoline and 10,180 grams of carbon dioxide per gallon of diesel according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Each year, the average passenger vehicle emits 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide.

By banning gasoline-powered vehicles, California will lower the rates of emission of toxic pollutants within our environment, drastically. The downside would be that electric cars are still more expensive than the traditional gasoline car and they would have to travel in shorter distances.

This will inevitably cause pushback from those who do not believe in climate change. Some questions that may arise are, what will happen to those that already have gas-powered vehicles? And how will this affect gas prices —  will they be raised higher due to its scarceness?

Gas-powered cars are currently more affordable than electric vehicles. If we replace gas vehicles with more expensive electric or solar-powered cars, this would then limit the amount of people that can have cars. This would mean that the cities that adopt this will have to start increasing access to public transportation, especially for those within lower economic communities.

The possibility of installing more public transportation options or a community bike sharing system are some viable options. Plus, city governments and planning committees will have to take into consideration the regional limitations of it all, like, for example, the fact that most northerners would not be able to cycle year round.

Students that live on college campuses already struggle to find safe forms of transportation, rather than walking. Since many do not bring vehicles on campus, whether due to the struggles of bringing it, finances, etc. Those who do bring their own vehicles often do it for convenience and safety concerns about alternative forms of transportation, such as anxieties about walking from place to place at night. This means that campus security would have to take into account these additional transportation considerations and potentially increase their on-campus presence in order to ensure that students would be able to get around safely.

The idea of adopting modernized electric or environmentally friendly cars seems like a far-off goal, especially for the small cities in Pennsylvania, but we are approaching it sooner than we think. For instance, Allegheny College has already incorporated 2 charging stops in the Vukovich and Bentley parking lots, as well as, they have a bike share and Zipcar program. Though some schools still have not made these accommodations for their students, which puts them in unsafe conditions.

The transition towards electric cars rather than gasoline is still a long process, with many things to take into consideration. Essentially, there would be many environmental benefits, but the shift would also put a handicap on the everyday people who already struggle to afford and maintain a car. This can leave many carless, with the use of public transportation as their main source of transportation.

Even further into the future, I wonder how long we would have to wait for the next “Elon Musk” to make advances within other forms of transportation, such as aircrafts and trains.