Numerous scholars around the world have discussed the issue of climate change in depth. It has been proven that many gas emissions that come from manufactured machines can affect or change the global climate. In the recent years, the science of climate change has been given more focus than ever before (Walther et al., 2002). Many resources have been allotted to this research area and the results were analyzed in detail because the effects of climate change affect the very existence of human beings. The automotive industry is at the center of the discussion of global warming, as it has contributed largely to the rising crisis of global warming in many ways.
Automotive Industry’s Effects on Climate
In recent decades, the world community has placed its focus on the study of climate change, the effects of which people can experience in their daily lives. Particularly, scientists have done a great job of analyzing and studying these effects. These consequences are so various and widespread that the scholars have categorized them into several groups. They include erratic weather and climate extremes, altered ecosystems and habitats, and risks to human health and societies, in general.
Emissions from the human activities such as the automotive industry have trapped so much heat that the Earth's atmosphere has heated up in measurable degrees of temperature. In turn, it has unleashed unexpected changes in the Earth's water system. The hydrological cycle has been changed and its initial deterministic style is no longer predictable. The cryosphere, which is the frozen water on the Earth's surface, is melting at an accelerated rate. The rate has risen to an alarming level, warning scientists of the imminent danger. The melting glaciers flow into the water bodies and raise the sea level (Philander, 2015). The dark waters that flow into the ocean make the sea absorb more heat, which in turn raises the atmospheric temperature, and the cycle continues.
The effects of emissions of the gasses released by the automotive industry do not only concern weather and climate changes but also stretch further, influencing the environment. The climate and weather changes have made habitats for most species uninhabitable. Coral reefs and shellfish are among the affected, as these two species are sensitive to temperature in the waters of the sea (Walther et al., 2002). The rising heat affects the algae that provide nourishment to the coral reefs. The algae are not thriving in such heat, leaving the corals starving and hence losing their bright color. The more acidic ocean also has an impact on creatures that have calcified shells like shellfish.
Furthermore, the fumes that cause the glaciers to melt are continuously harming the Arctic creatures, which need ice in their environment to survive. Animals like polar bears and walruses are finding extremely hard to thrive because of the continuous degradation of their habitats. The consequences of these fumes are so adverse that the polar bear was added to the long list of endangered species in the year 2008 (Derocher, Lunn, & Stirling, 2008).
Consequently, the climate and weather have changed significantly the number of months a season comprises. For instance, winters have become longer and sometimes, summers last longer periods. This change has greatly affected the existence of trees that have a minimal defense to winter conditions. Moreover, insects have damaged the square area of 70,000 miles of mountain conifers (Watson et al., 2000).
People have become slaves of their actions. The burdens of the climate change, for instance, the rising temperatures, are almost subduing the human population. Climate change has adversely affected the agricultural activities of the human societies (Meehl et al., 2007). All over the world, farmers are struggling with rising challenge of unpredictable weather. They should also contend with the attacks from insects and weeds. In addition, the effect of climate change has been realized in the scarcity of food in the world supplies.
Furthermore, the consequences of the activities of automotive industry influenced the quality of the air that human beings breathe. Particularly, the air has become polluted with fumes released by automobiles. The warm temperature accelerates the chemical reactions that lead to the formation of ground-level ozone gas. The gas that is commonly known as smog has been known to cause lung irritation and frequent asthma attacks. The human infrastructure has been damaged too on occasional instances. The climate and weather change has caused frequent floods, which damage the roads, electrical power systems, and buildings. The floods also disrupt the mode of transport in many countries (Bindoff, 2007).
Tactics and Alliances Employed by the Automotive Industry
The only question that lingers in the mind is why the automotive industry has remained prevalent in the midst of the uprising concerns of climate change. The industry has been powerful and reluctant to change because it has unions or industry organizations that defend it despite the need for change. The firms are also not toothless in their defense as they invent strategies to prevent the rising demand for change in the amount of the emissions their cars produce. These firms have publicly used strategies to influence public opinion and adapted little or no change in the way they conduct their business. The car industry has remained powerful because of the need of the human population to commute across the globe. The market is so large that the influence on the market easily subdues any force pushing for change.
The automotive industry has employed numerous tactics to survive the rising consensus of climate change. For instance, it has implemented the strategy of creating doubt in the minds of the public. In the recent years, a group called the Cooler Heads Coalition operated by the Washington-based Competitive Enterprise Institute has raged the campaign of doubt concerning the data presented to the public as false. The group has regarded the campaign of global warming as a conspiracy developed by the main project funders – NASA. The Cooler Heads Coalition has accused NASA of falsifying information concerning climate change. It has also accused NASA of spending taxpayers’ money on projects that are not worthy (Oreskes & Conway, 2010). The tactic employed is not only limited to damaging the reputation of NASA. It has gone to the extent of damaging the images of the scientists involved in the projects of environmental research. The tactic presupposes pointing out that the scientists are engaged in the criminal activity of falsifying data that incriminate burning fossil fuels as the cause for global warming.
Structures Supporting the Industry’s Continuity
There are political backups that have propped up the automotive industry against the rising consensus of global warming. In the year 2008, the United States of America held its elections and the presidential candidate Senator of Arizona John McCain did not support the issues raised by global warming scientists. The Republican Party had numerous members who publicly agreed with the ideologies of the free-market solutions. The party consisted of “flat-earthers” who denied the existence of climate change and "do-nothings" who admitted the existence of climate change but openly did nothing to assist in the remedy. The do-nothings are the politicians who do not make any effort to challenge the automotive industries concerning the topic of climate change. Due to these politicians, the industry has remained particularly stubborn and resistant to change (Adler, 2014).
Prospects for Change in the Industry
However, there are possible solutions that the automotive industry can implement to become more environment-friendly. There are new laws passed by legislatures that will reduce the number of emissions the cars are allowed to produce. Car owners are advised to subject their cars to emissions percentage tests. There are institutions that carry out the test and advise accordingly. Moreover, the Washington State Department has an on-line application portal for car owners to book or schedule their cars to go through the inspection (WA State Department of Licensing, n.d.).
There are car-manufacturing companies that have also put enough effort in producing cars that are not degrading the environment. For example, the Honda's electric-four-motor cars are among the vehicles geared toward a cleaner environment (Edelstein, 2015b). The Mitsubishi xEV is another car that will be powered by batteries (Voelcker, 2015). Furthermore, the Lexus LF-FC Electric London Taxi is one more futuristic model (Edelstein, 2015a). Finally, the Honda Plug-In Acura 2017 NSX model is also manufactured in an attempt to reduce the effects of emissions of vehicles (Bell, 2015).
The above technologies are all geared toward eliminating the effects of automobile emissions. However, they have held back by the challenges such as the inefficiency and the lack of technologies that can be used to make them more cost-effective. These issues have been the major threat to change in the industry. Moreover, the necessary technologies need to meet the law requirements of emissions, which is money consuming.
The automotive industry has largely contributed to the development of the crisis of global warming. There are tactics that have been used to evade change by the industry, particularly by creating doubt in the minds of people. Moreover, numerous organizations and politicians allow the industry to remain powerful. Nevertheless, there is some hope since some of the companies have decided to engage means for change, introducing more environment-friendly vehicles.