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EARTH DAY "K-12 book" L.

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American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) publishes a yearly Green Guide to Cars and Trucks that ranks new cars, vans, SUVs and pickup trucks according to their environmental friendliness. Fuel efficiency and contributions to air pollution and global warming are considered. The Green Guide is available for $12 (postage included) from ACEEE Publications, 1001 Connecticut Ave., NW, Suite 801, Washington, DC 20036, tel.: 202-429-0063, email:, Internet: Bullfrog Films distributes Subdivide and Conquer: A Modern Western (1999), addressing the causes and consequences of urban sprawl as well as solutions and alternatives. To order, contact: Bullfrog Films, P.O.Box 149, Oley, PA, 19547, 1-800-543-3764, email:, Internet: Campaign on Auto Pollution distributes Getting There: Strategic Facts for the Transportation Advocate, a fascinating collection of well-documented transportation-related facts and statistics. Limited quantities are available. To order, send a self-addressed stamped envelope with $1.24 in postage to: CAP, attn. Mark Briscoe, 310 D Street, Washington, DC 20002, tel: 202-547-9359, fax: 202-547-9429, email:, Internet: Earth Day Network is the international organization coordinating Earth Day 2000 events worldwide. Contact Earth Day Network, 91 Marion Street, Seattle, WA 98104, tel: 206-264-0114, email:, Internet: Earth Force’s Get Out Spoke’n campaign provides information and support to young people who are working to make their communities more bikefriendly. Contact Earth Force, 1908 Mount Vernon, 2nd Floor, Alexandria, VA 22301, tel: 800-23FORCE, x. 872; Internet: Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)’s offers excellent on-line tools to help students learn about the air quality and major pollution sources of their area, fuel efficiencies of specific years and models of cars, vehicles’ life-cycle environmental impacts, and health impacts of air pollution. Contact EDF, 257 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10010, tel: 800-84-3322, Internet: Four-H Council offers Going Places, Making Choices: A Curriculum for Grades 9-11 about transportation and the environment. Copies are available free of charge to educators. Contact: National 4-H Council, Attn. David Carrier. 7100 Connecticut Avenue, Chevy Chase, MD 20815, tel: 301-961-2906, fax: 301-961-2894, email:, Internet: Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has launched an EarthSmart Cars campaign, urging automakers to make cleaner, less-polluting vehicles available to consumers. For more information, or to participate, contact NRDC, 40 West 20th St., New York, NY 10011, tel: 212-727-2700, email:, Internet: Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA) offers Getting Around Without Gasoline, a 54-page curriculum for grades 6-8. Also available for elementary school educators: Choose Your Future (32 pages, including teacher’s guide). Help students explore transportation and other choices for a sustainable future. Cost for each piece is $5 for non-NESEA members; free to members. Contact NESEA at 50 Miles Street, Greenfield, MA 01301, tel: 413-774-6051, email:, Internet: Sierra Club’s Clean Car Campaign is working for cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars as the single most important way to reduce air pollution and global warming. They offer an educational video, The Climate Report, summarizing climate change and ways to reverse it. For more information, contact Steve Pedery at 202-547-1141 or by email at Internet: or Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has several fact sheets that address “The Hidden Costs of Transportation.” Look for “Cars and Trucks and Global Warming,” “Greener Solutions,” and “Advanced Vehicles and Alternative Fuels” at Or contact UCS, 2 Brattle Square, Cambridge, MA 02238, tel: 617-547-5552. The Video Project offers “Element One — Hydrogen: Key to the Sustainable Energy Revolution” (grade 10 and up) and “Moving Beyond Auto America” (grade 7 and up). Contact: The Video Project. 200 Estates Dr., Ben Lomond, CA 95005, tel. 831-336-0160. And check this out! — National Walk-Your-Child-to-School Day/Organize a Walk-to-School Day — see; tel: 800-621-7615, x2383. Join thousands of students across America!

Dear Teacher,
The use of cars has become woven into the fabric of our daily lives. Yet our current transportation system contributes to some of our most serious environmental problems. We have prepared this teacher’s guide to give you tools for addressing these issues and exploring solutions with your class. Included are background information, classroom activities, action ideas for students, and a list of additional free or low-cost resources. Young people need to know that their actions will make a difference in their world today and in their future. Every little bit they can do to help makes a positive difference and lays groundwork for good environmental citizenship. We would love to hear about how you used this information, what activities you found particularly useful and fun, and any especially interesting/creative outcomes your class experienced. You can reach us by email at, or fax us at (206) 682-1184. We plan to share some of these stories and teaching ideas on our web site. Thanks! For more information about Earth Day Network, visit


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Other greenhouse gases produced as a result of human activity include methane, nitrous oxide, and CFCs. Energy Information Administration, U.S. Department of Energy, International Energy Annual 1997. “Climate and Atmospheric History of the Past 420,000 Years from the Vostok Ice Core, Antarctica,“ Nature Magazine, June 3, 1999. Nature Magazine, April 23 1998. Summary for Policymakers: The Science of Climate Change, IPCC Working Group I, 1995. U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. Department of Energy, World Carbon Dioxide Emissions from the Consumption and Flaring of Fossil Fuels, 1988-1997 ( Source: American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. Department of Energy, Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States 1997. Source: American Public Transit Association fact sheet, ”Public Transportation: The Federal Partnership.“ National Academy of Sciences study on CAFE standards, 1992. Source: Worldwatch Institute. U.S. Energy Information Administration, Department of Energy, Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States 1997 Adapted from Away With Waste, Washington Department of Ecology

Written by Jan Thomas and Anne Fritzel. Special thanks to Ruth Baetz, Melinda Branscomb, Denis Hayes, Paul Horton, Janice Kohler, Jennie Lane, Alissa Moen, Judy Niver, Cathi Rodgveller, Donald Reynolds, Rhys Roth, Adam Serchuck, Kevin Whilden, Brett Williams, Climate Solutions, and the Oil Smart education committee.

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IN 1900, FEW PEOPLE HAD EVER SEEN AN AUTOMOBILE. TODAY THERE ARE 500 MILLION CARS WORLDWIDE — AND IT IS PREDICTED THAT THIS NUMBER WILL DOUBLE OVER THE NEXT TWENTY-FIVE YEARS. Today, cars and other means of transportation cause some of our most serious environmental problems. Smog fouls the air of most of the world’s cities and causes respiratory and other health problems. Drilling for oil pollutes land, lakes, rivers and oceans. Thousands of “routine” oil spills each year contaminate wild lands, streams, lakes, and delicate coastal areas. Loss of animal and plant habitat and loss of valuable farmland occur as more and more land is covered by roads, buildings and parking areas. In coming decades, global warming — a direct result of fossil fuel use and deforestation — is expected to change the global climate system in ways that will affect people and ecosystems worldwide.


GLOBAL WARMING: THE BASICS Oil, natural gas, and coal are called “fossil fuels” because they were formed underground from the remains of animals and plants that lived hundreds of millions of years ago. Oil is refined to produce the gasoline that powers our cars. Carbon dioxide, the most significant “greenhouse” (heat-trapping) gas produced by humans, is released when fossil fuels are burned to produce energy. This gas occurs naturally at levels that have been relatively stable for many thousands of years. However, burning gasoline and other fossil fuels has dramatically increased the level of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere. The thickening blanket of carbon dioxide and other green house gases1 traps heat that would otherwise escape, similar to the way heat is held inside by the windshield of a car parked in the sun. Over six billion tons of carbon are emitted worldwide each year due to human use of fossil fuels — more than one ton for every person on earth.2 A recent analysis of air bubbles inside ancient ice core samples from Antarctica found that the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide is higher now than at any time during the past 420,000 years.3 Geological records show an extremely close correlation between greenhouse gas levels and global temperatures.

Evidence is mounting that carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases are changing the climate: Global temperatures are rising. A study by the National Science Foundation found that 1990, 1995, and 1997 were hotter than any other year going as far back as 1400, at “roughly a 99.7% level of certainty.”4 Extreme weather events — especially heavy rains and flooding—are becoming commonplace. This is consistent with scientists’ predictions of a
Transportation-Related CO2 Emissions, 1997-98
One third of all U.S. carbon dioxide emissions come from the transportation sector. Carbon dioxide is the most significant of all the greenhouse gases that result from human activity.

warming world, in part because warmer air holds more moisture. Mountain glaciers around the world are shrinking rapidly, polar ice caps are melting, and warming ocean waters are expanding (water’s volume increases as it warms, just as the liquid does in a thermometer). These changes are causing sea levels to rise. During the next century, coastal areas and small island nations face a high risk of severe flooding that could force millions of people from their homes. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an international panel of 2,500 climate experts, predicts an average warming of 2 to 6 degrees Fahrenheit by the year 2100.5 In relative terms, this is a huge increase. By comparison, the earth has warmed by only 5 to 9 degrees F since the depths of the last ice age about 20,000 years ago. Predictions for impact of global warming include disruptions in agriculture, changes in the water supply, flooded islands and coastal areas, and forest die-offs. The amount of warming and the extent of its impacts will depend on whether we succeed in curbing our greenhouse gas emissions.

can breathe cleaner air and limit the risks of global warming and climate change. The United States produces nearly 25% of the world’s total carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel use.6 Approximately 20 pounds of carbon dioxide is emitted for every gallon of gasoline burned.7 URBAN SPRAWL MAKES IT WORSE In addition to their role in causing air pollution and climate change, cars have brought about huge changes to our urban landscapes. Their speed and convenience have allowed people to live farther away from city centers. Urban sprawl results when land far from city centers and public transit routes is developed for housing and shopping malls. Because of sprawl, more people drive longer distances to go to work, to school, or to the store. This means more traffic and more pollution. Wild areas and streams are covered over when land is used for highways, stores and homes. Sprawl destroys farmland, forests, and other habitat for wild animals and plants. In many urban areas, 40-50% of the total land surface is covered by buildings and pavement.

Industrial Production = 33% Businesses = 16%

Homes = 19%

Transportation = 32%

By developing alternatives to our current transportation and energy systems, we

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REMEMBER: Every car trip you don’t make helps prevent air pollution and global warming!
How can we reduce air pollution, climate change, and sprawl through our transportation choices? DRIVE LESS • Walk, bike, or roller-blade. Be good to the environment and your body, and see the world up close. • Ride smart. Limit unnecessary trips, combine errands, and reduce total miles driven. • Ride-share. Carpool with friends — it’s more fun and it creates much less pollution. • Take public transportation (mass transit) whenever possible. Mass transit — including buses, trains, subways, and trolleys — in major cities worldwide transports large numbers of people more efficiently. One bus can carry as many people as 40 cars usually do. Mass transit reduces the number of single-driver auto miles by many millions each year. A 10% increase in national mass transit ridership would save 135 million gallons of gasoline yearly.9 DRIVE A FUEL-EFFICIENT VEHICLE Keep your family’s car well-maintained to maximize its efficiency and minimize pollution. And use a vehicle that gets the highest possible number of miles to the gallon, and encourage your family to consider fuel-efficiency when buying their next car. “Improved design and incorporation of new technology can enhance both crash avoidance and crashworthiness potential, while improving fuel efficiency.” (National Academy of Sciences)10 If every car in the U.S. were replaced by one that was just 10 MPG more fuel efficient, this would reduce the U.S.’ annual carbon dioxide contribution to global warming by nearly 20%.11 Because they burn less gasoline per mile, fuel-efficient motor vehicles produce less air pollution and fewer greenhouse gas emissions. More miles-pergallon equals less pollution-per-mile. SUVs = MORE GREENHOUSE GASES The popularity of larger and less fuel-efficient sport utility vehicles (SUVs) has caused the overall fuel efficiency of U.S. motor vehicles to drop sharply. Half of all new cars sold in 1998 were “light trucks” — SUVs, minivans, and pickup trucks. Although these are seen by many as “trendy” and cool, their effects on the environment are severe. On average, SUVs emit 40% more greenhouse gases than cars. By raising standards for fuel efficiency and by requiring SUVs and other light trucks to meet the same standards as cars, we can take a giant step toward improving air quality and reducing global warming pollution.


As oil becomes less plentiful and more expensive, and as concern grows about its environmental impacts, we will turn increasingly to less-polluting alternatives. Improved mass transit and smarter urban design will reduce total vehicle miles driven. Today’s gasoline-powered vehicles will be replaced by cleaner ones. Cars will be lighter (yet not necessarily smaller or less safe) and will be designed to minimize wind resistance, thus maximizing fuelefficiency. Here is a summary of what’s already in place and what’s coming soon with new car technologies:

Electric Vehicles: in use now Electric vehicles are in use today. They emit no air pollutants and no greenhouse gases. Electric vehicles use stacks of batteries to power an electric motor. Widespread acceptance of these cars has, however, been limited by their expensive batteries and short driving range (typically 60–100 miles) before recharging is required.
NOTE: Electric vehicles are not emission-free. The power plants that produce your area’s electricity may release substantial greenhouse gases and other air pollution — especially if they use coal, which produces 88% of total electricity-related greenhouse gas emissions.12

hybrid-electric vehicles are powered by one or more electric motors, or a combination of electric motors and motion from the engine. A small, highpower battery may be used to store electrical energy temporarily for use during rapid accelerations, such as when starting from a complete stop, passing, or hill-climbing. Because the gas engine is not used for rapid accelerations, it can be small, quiet, and extremely efficient. Finally, the small battery allows much of the energy usually wasted during braking to be captured and used to power the car. Look for the first hybrid vehicles to enter the mass market in late-1999 or early-2000 at a cost of approximately $20,000.

Hydrogen Fuel Cells: 5 years away Hydrogen fuel cells are considered the most likely replacement for the internal combustion engine in automobiles. Hydrogen is the purest and cleanest fuel source available. When combined with oxygen from the air in a non-combustion reaction in a fuel cell, the only by-products are electricity, water and heat. America’s space shuttles have used fuel cells for years to produce their electricity and drinking water.
Hydrogen, unlike gasoline, is not toxic. Hydrogen fumes also disperse much more quickly than gasoline fumes, so in the event of an accident, hydrogen fuel is less likely than gasoline to ignite. For these reasons, hydrogen’s overall level of safety as a fuel is comparable to or better than gasoline. Fuel cell prototype cars exist now, but mass production of fuel cells for consumer transportation will take several years due to the technical challenges involved and the need to build up an alternative fuel infrastructure. Look for commercial fuel-cell-powered vehicles in less than five years.

Clean-car technologies will reduce emissions that cause pollution and global warming, but they do not address the other environmental impacts of driving. In cities around the world, people are starting to redesign their communities to reduce auto use and improve the environment. Some cities have established urban growth boundaries to limit urban sprawl. Many are also promoting “in-fill development,” building more housing in city centers and providing public transit that is close

to where people work. Some are closing off streets, improving pedestrian access, and building bike paths to boost non-motorized travel. Still others are improving public transit systems by expanding routes and shifting to low-pollution buses, trolleys and trains. URBAN REDESIGN IS ESSENTIAL TO REDUCE AUTOMOBILE USE AND ITS MANY HARMFUL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS.

Hybrid-Electric Vehicles: next year Hybrid-electric vehicles are the most exciting nearterm prospect for combating motor vehicle pollution through new vehicle design. Hybrid cars will get 60+ MPG and produce 90% fewer toxic air emissions, yet they will have the same power and driving “feel” as today’s cars.
Using an engine to convert a chemical fuel (such as gasoline) into electricity on-board the vehicle,

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Ask the students to brainstorm different modes of transportation and then create collages of their favorite methods. Have students write about the modes of transportation in their collages, noting which ones are the most earth-friendly.


Help students understand the link between car use and global warming by learning about the carbon dioxide emissions of a particular car. Ask them to find out the year and model type of a car with which they are familiar (their family’s car, or a friend’s or relative’s car). Then show them how to enter this infor-mation at the Environmental Defense Fund’s website (; click on “Tailpipe Tally — Calculate YOUR Vehicle Emissions”). They will receive a breakdown of the average yearly emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants for that car, with comparisons to the average car’s yearly emissions and to the average home’s yearly electricity use. Follow up with a class discussion. If your class does not have access to the Internet, examples from this chart can be used to illustrate the fact that vehicles produce widely differing amounts of carbon dioxide pollution:

Make a chart for students to record their trips for one week. Include columns for the date, reason for travel (home to school, school to soccer practice, etc.), mode of transportation (bike, car, walking), distance, and carbon dioxide emissions (global warming pollution). Have students list the trips they make for seven days, recording where they went, why, the mode of transportation and the distance. Using the following chart, have them calculate how much carbon dioxide was produced for each trip:


Most advertisements for cars or sport utility vehicles send messages about freedom, adventure, driving on empty roads, or heading up a mountain. The reality of most people‘s driving time is quite different. Ask students to find magazine ads for different vehicles, or to record television ads on video. As a class, examine the messages conveyed in these ads and discuss the realities of city driving. Have students create “reality” car advertisements that (a) include their environmental impacts, and (b) reflect what it is actually like to drive on the busiest street in your town.



Ask students to interview an elder — a family member or friend — about how they got around during their childhood. What form of transportation did they use? How long did it take them to get places? How have the roads changed since then? Afterwards, ask students to write about what they learned.



Bike/Walk Bus

No emissions No extra emissions
Although buses cause emissions, they produce almost the same amount regardless of how many passengers they carry.

Drive Alone in Car

Determine the car’s MPG by tracking the total miles traveled on a full tank of gas. Then divide this number by the amount of gas it takes to refill the tank. Then divide the number of miles driven by the MPG number. Multiply the result by 20 to get the total pounds of CO2 emissions.

Have students imagine showing your community to a visiting friend. As a class, brainstorm a list of parks, amusement areas or other special places you would like to visit in an afternoon. Working in small groups, design a route that starts from your school and uses your community’s public transportation systems. Research all the possibilities: bus, subway, bicycles, walking, etc. Each group may have a different route and/or different transportation choice — the more, the better! Based on all the groups’ findings, put together a day-guide for the visitor, including contact information and schedules.


Have students look at a map of your city and think about how it might incorporate more efficient bus routing, networks of safe streets for cyclists, and safer walking conditions. Have students redesign their city, working with the natural features to maintain their existence, yet designing strong neighborhood centers where people can walk to services and to the bus. They may wish to revise bus routes for more efficient service. Have students present their designs to the class. Make a list of ideas for making your city work better.



Have students write to local government officials asking for bike lanes and safe bike parking at your school.


1990 1992 1995 1998 1999

Jeep Cherokee Dodge Caravan – 4wd Honda Civic Ford Explorer – 2wd Saturn SC

10,700 13,500 7,000 16,300 9,200


Divide the total emissions for “Drive Alone in Car” by the number of people carpooling.

Better community design is vital to reduce automobile transportation and its impacts. However, for some journeys we will still want to drive private automobiles. In the coming century, automobiles may be run on different kinds of fuels such as hydrogen fuel cells, battery-powered electricity, or solar energy. Divide the class into groups and ask each group to choose a type of future transportation. Have them research where its energy will come from, how much the technology is expected to cost, and when it is likely to come on the market. Ask each group to present its findings to the class.

Have students write to vehicle manufactures and ask them to show leadership and clean up our air by making cleaner, more fuelefficient vehicles. Here are three of several manufacturers they can start with: Ford Motor Company Attn: William Clay Ford, Jr. P.O. Box 1899 Dearborn MI 48121 Daimler-Chrysler AG Attn: Robert Eaton and Jürgen Schrempt Auburn Hills, MI 48326 GM Corporation Attn: John F. Smith, Jr. P.O. Box 100 Detroit MI 48265

COMPARE TO: Average Car’s Yearly Emissions: 10,800 Average Person’s Electricity Use: 9,200

Compile the results and look at average emissions for individuals and for the class as a whole. Brainstorm ways to reduce the amount of fossil fuel use and the resulting pollution.