Transportation and the environment are contradictory. One side, transportation supports growing mobility demands for passengers and freight while on the other hand, transportation activities lead to emergent levels of motorization and overcrowding which causes alarm to the environmental. The fast growth in technology results to over-reliance on hydrocarbons combustion particularly internal combustion engine which has increased environmental systems impacts like the emissions of pollutants. This paper discusses the direct, indirect and cumulative impacts of transportation on the environment.
The direct impacts have clear and well understood cause and effects, indirect impacts are secondary effects with misunderstood and unascertained causes and effects, while cumulative impacts are synergetic consequences of transport activities with unpredicted impacts on the ecosystem. These impacts fall under climate alteration, water quality, air quality, soil quality, noise, biodiversity and land. Transportation releases tons of gases like Lead, Carbon Monoxide, Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), and Perfluorocarbons (PFCs), among others which linked with climatic alterations and anthropogenic factors (Rodrigue and Comtois, 2011).
In addition, vehicles, marine engines, locomotives and aircraft release gases and particulate matters that affect the air quality causing damage to human health like respiratory diseases as well as production of horrible and upsetting noise that affect the quality of life by traumatizing the ear (Rodrigue and Comtois, 2011). Transportation also impacts the hydrological conditions by contaminating water catchments. Coastal transport facilitates soil erosion while oil spills result to soil contamination. In addition, transportation influences natural vegetation, through the need for construction materials and land based transportation which lead to deforestation. Transportation has an effect on the urban landscape (Rodrigue and Comtois, 2011).
Rodrigue JP and Comtois C., (2010). The Environmental Impacts of Transportation. Retrieved on 06-04-2011 from http://people.hofstra.edu/geotrans/eng/ch8en/conc8en/ch8c1en.html last updated on 2011.
Ministry for the Environment New Zealand, (2011). Transport: Environmental Effects. Retrieved on 06-04-2011 from http://www.mfe.govt.nz/issues/transport/environmental.html last updated 2011.