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Reducing Smog One Car at a Time

As follow-up to last week's coverage of smog problems in Beijing, China, let's investigate the positive effects of car pooling. At first, assume all cars operate on gasoline.

Question 1: How many cars are being used in the United States?

Question 2: Each car is driven what average mileage each year?

Question 3: What percentage of automobile mileage is due to people commuting to and from work?

Question 4: Some have claimed that if a commuter car carried one more person, more than 600,000 gallons of gasoline would be saved and prevent more than 12,000,000 pounds of carbon dioxide being released as an air pollutant. Do these claims make sense?

Question 5: BAsed on this claim, how many pounds of carbon dioxide are released into the air by a car that is driven 10000 miles a year and gets 20 mi/gal? 30 mi/gal? 40 mi/gal?

Question 6: Another claim is that in one year, 3,000,000,000 gallons of gasoline are wasted each year by cars stalled in traffic jams. Does this claim make sense?

Question 7: Now, reconsider these questions within the context of:

  • Diesel cars
  • Hybrid cars
  • Electric cars
That is, what are their potential effects?

Source: Adapted from Prentice Hall Pre-Algebra Math And..., 1992