Responding to Climate Change
Responding to climate change is the greatest challenge of all time facing human society. Here is what eminent Scientist Prof. Will Steffen, Executive Director of ANU Climate Change Institute wrote following the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen;
In a worst case scenario, unabated climate change could lead to the unravelling and then collapse of globalised, contemporary society, driving a rapid and uncontrollable drop in population, rampant disease and massive suffering, shattered economies and broken societies, and causing a wave of extinctions and ecosystem disruptions in the natural world. The global patient – human society – has been diagnosed as having the symptoms of a serious and potentially fatal disease, and yet is acting as though it is a mere headache – a couple of aspirins, a glass of water, a good night’s sleep and everything will be okay in the morning. Read the full text
Human activities which contribute to climate change fall essentially into 2 areas; deforestation, use of fossil fuels for power generaton and transport. The USA and China account for 45% of all atmospheric CO2. Australia is the highest emitter of CO2 on a per capita basis.
This website is dedicated to reducing atmospheric CO2 by encouraging people to take up more climate-friendly personal transport.
Greenhouse gases and Air Quality
All motors generate harmful greenhouses gases that are accumulating in the atmosphere and exacerabate climate change.
All motors have an effect on air quality.
We need to understand what the environmental impacts are and arrive at what is reasonably sustainable. There can be no absolute. The only truly sustainable mode of personal transport is going by foot.
Environment in crisis
If you live in a cave, you may not know that our environment is in crisis. Climate change is occurring, driven by wasteful overuse of fossil fuels: coal and petroleum. Most transport fuel is petroleum and the experts now say that world petroleum production is going into decline.
We must begin now to use less coal and petroleum if we are going to arrest climate change, prevent environmental degradation and tackle the looming petroleum crisis.
|Photo: World Wildlife Fund ||Inflow to dams (Perth,WA.) ||UNESCO link |
The climate problem of cars
In Australia, Some 8% of all greenhouse gas emissions come from the transport sector. Sustainable transport has become core government policy in Australia and most nations around the world.
This is what it means for you. The more fossil fuel you burn, the more you are part of the problem and not the solution. These numbers in the table below are indicative only, developed using carbon calculators on the Australian Greenhouse Office and ABC's Carbon Cops websites.
Find out more about Greenhouse gas calculations.
As you can see, light pedal/motor-assisted bicycles are about as green as you can get. Electric bikes derive power from coal in Australia and are comparable to petrol bikes. However, petrol's big advantage is power to weight, meaning that serious power is available when you need it.
|Walk||0||Very climate-friendly. Catch a walking school bus if you can|
|Personal transporter||Coal||Expensive alternative to walking.|
|Bicycle||0||Also very climate-friendly - zero emissions|
|Light Pedal/Motor-assisted Bicycle (LP/MAB)||15||The ultimate energy/CO2 miser. Energy density of liquid fuel is much higher than battery storage, which typically means that vehicle weight can be lower than for E-bike kilowatt for kilowatt.|
|Electric-assisted bike||25||E-bikes are energy/CO2 misers, but they still run on coal. Batteries are expensive but carbon footprint is comparable to the LP/MAB|
|Motorized bike||25||Similar to LP/MAB except that engine typically remains in use, even when it is not needed.|
|Light motor scooter||70||Much better than single-occupant cars. If a bicycle is not for you, then the next vehicle of choice should be a moped or scooter.|
|106||Touchy feely eco-friendly of questionable climate merit because of high capital cost, heavy weight and questionable life.|
|Small petrol car||142||4 commuters in a Getz,Yaris or Jazz is good climate value.|
Air Quality Pollution
While the Ped-Power Bike concept could be employed on a range of alternative vehicle options, the most readily available motorized bike configuration would employ a 2-stroke motor out of China.
At present, the Ped-Power Bike slips through the regulatory cracks. This is because it is regarded as a non-road recreational vehicle, even though many people use it as a work vehicle. However this will soon change unless enthusiasts and visionaries get together and work out how to avoid being regulated out of the USA and by extension, other countries as well. Find out more about the new Control of Emissions From Nonroad Spark-Ignition Engines and Equipment which will affect 2-stroke engine imports from 2010.
The common 2-stroke bicycle engine have at least two valuable characteristic, namely;
- that they they have a high power to weight ratio so that a a light engine still packs a useful punch; and
- their compact size means that they can be fitted on the bicycle frame and not interfere with good riding ergonomics.
Pollution from engines falls into 2 main streams; greenhouse gases and air quality nasties. We don't underestimate the latter. For example, many cities, particularly in Asia, suffered badly from poor air quality, especially where;
- there were millions of 2-stroke motor cycles in use;
- There were no engine emission controls at all.
- Use of mineral lubrication oil tended to result in the charactistic 2-stroke smoke.
Response to Air Quality Concerns
These days, it would be quite reasonable to regulate motor-assisted pedal cycles powered by 2-stroke motors where the vehicle was not a nuisance to others (ie fumes or noise), including:
- Prohibit 2-stroke engines in pedestrian/resident sensitive areas;
- Require the use of synthetic oils to eliminate smoke; and
- Require the use of a catalytic converter exhaust pipe.
HybriPed acknowledges that air quality management is essential and will be undertaking further research when time permits, but there is some further information on the page Bicycle motors
Future Air Quality Management
The future for the motorized bicycle clearly is to develop a suitable, low cost, direct injection 2-stroke engine that is both light and suitable for city use.
Australian Company Orbital Engine Corporation is a leader in Direct Injection 2-stroke technology and has been involved for several years in the project by Envirofit. See Envirofits 2-stroke retrofit story.
Direct Injection Two Stroke Technology is also very important to the marine industry where light weight is essential to minimise vessel weight and energy waste.
Here is an extract from the Environmental Protection Agency's Control of Emissions From Nonroad Spark-Ignition Engines and Equipment;
H. Technological Feasibility
(1) Level of Standards
Over the past several years, manufacturers have demonstrated their ability to achieve significant HC+NOX emission reductions from outboard and personal watercraft engines. This has largely been accomplished through the introduction of two-stroke direct injection engines and conversion to four-stroke engines. Recent certification data for these types of engines show that these technologies may be used to achieve emission levels significantly below the current exhaust emission standards.
To read the full text:
- Copy H. Technological Feasibility to clipboard (with no blank space either end)
- Open EPA Federal Register Environment Document Part A.
- Paste in your browser 'Find' box.