Parking vs Pollution

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During the past semester, many Paly students have complained about the lack of parking in the football and tower building parking lots. Many upperclassmen have noticed that when they arrive at school, there are far fewer spots available than there were before.

“A lot of the kids who are new drivers are now taking up the spots when they don’t have permits,” Jaime Furlong (senior) said. “And with so few spots now I am continuously asked why I am late to class.”

Many upperclassmen students believe that the increase in lowerclassmen drivers is the cause of the lack of spots. “It is completely unfair and unjustified for underclassmen to use reserved parking passes,” Gigi Tierney (senior) said. “Or for them be given parking passes that are clearly being oversold.” With the designated student spots taken up, students who already pay for parking permits are being ticketed for parking in staff parking or other areas that are restricted. “It sucks that I paid a lot of money for a pass,” Tierney said. “I have to either come 20 minutes early to find a parking spot or am 20 minutes late to class and I get reprimanded for it.”

The opinions of the upperclassmen regarding this issue are clear. However, with the abundance of outcry surrounding the parking situation at Paly, the environmental impact of the high number of cars used by Paly students remains ignored.

According to a report by the Global Carbon Project, CO2 emissions reached an all-time high in 2018. After a few years of little increase in global CO2 emission, the 1.6% increase in 2017 and 2.7% increase in 2018 alarmed not only environmental activists and scientists but the status of the Earth’s greenhouse gas issue.

Instead of focusing on who should and should not park in Paly’s parking lot, the focus should be on who is driving to school that could otherwise walk or bike.

While different vehicles emit varying amounts of CO2, The Environmental Protection Agency reports that, as a whole, the transportation sector generates the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions. The Bay Area, specifically, is known to have a large amount of commuters and according to a study conducted at UC Berkeley, “transportation is the largest source of households’ emissions, representing 33 percent of the total” (Krieger, L. M).

Cars work through the combustion of fossil fuels such as petroleum-based gasoline. While the heat produced is converted into energy that moves the vehicle, the carbon in the fuel combines with the oxygen in the air to produce CO2 as a byproduct. Analysts highlight that one of the bests ways to decrease emissions in the Bay Area is to “massively scale up electrification of our vehicles” (Krieger, L. M).

CO2 is a very hazardous and the most common greenhouse gas. High amounts of CO2 contribute to climate change because as a greenhouse gas, it acts as a blanket and traps heat in the atmosphere, leading to rising global temperatures. Rising temperatures are especially dangerous because they can cause a chain reaction of changes within animals, the ocean, and weather patterns.

The frustration over limited parking spaces has overshadowed the more important issue which is that, in general, there are too many cars being driven to Paly and students are contributing more to CO2 emissions than necessary. Unlike the commuters throughout the Bay Area, many Paly students live close enough to school where they do not need to drive. Regardless of the smaller impact of fuel-efficient cars, the choice to walk or bike will always result in the lowest contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.