When Will We Start To See ‘Tailpipes’ On Cars As Morally Wrong?

For those of us who don’t already…

The economists call them “externalities.”

Car exhaust (Image: BBC)

Car exhaust (Image: BBC)

They’re the costs of people’s actions on other people or communities–but the people taking those actions don’t have to pay for those costs, even though they harm others.

And the emissions from combusting fossil fuels are clearly a prime example.

While complaints about air quality in the Los Angeles Basin date back literally centuries, research more than 50 years ago established that vehicle emissions were the primary cause of photochemical smog.

That led the state of California to begin efforts to regulate tailpipe emissions–well before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency even existed–which led in turn to the first catalytic converters in U.S. vehicles in 1975.

Catalysts spread throughout most of the automaking world over the next 20 years, hugely reducing emissions of carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (HC), and nitrogen oxides (NOx), all of them toxic in various ways.

The gradual recognition and scientific acceptance of climate change due to rapid and unparalleled human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution around 1750 adds an entirely new problem.

Read more: Green Car Reports

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