Air pollution

The ways in which we travel have changed a lot over the last few centuries. Transport has become faster, easier and sometimes cheaper. But the developments in technology have not always been good for the environment. Steam trains were indeed faster than wagons, and steam ships faster and stronger than sailing ships. But the smoke they sent into the air polluted the air. Then diesel and electric trains came, and they were somewhat cleaner. However, to make the electricity that trains use; large amounts of coal have to be burned. The smoke also causes air pollution.

Cars are also bad for the environment. The exhaust fumes that come from cars contain poisonous gases and pollute the air. The most dangerous gas that comes from cars (and planes) is carbon dioxide (CO2), which is a greenhouse gas. All of the pollution, particularly the greenhouse gases, that is being released into the air is resulting in ‘Global Warming’

To understand 'global warming' and what you can do to stop it from happening go to this easy to use interactive site... it explains it all really well and it will be fun to look at and discuss with your classmates!

Ground pollution

Penguins covered in oil after an oil tanker sank near Cape Town in 2000. Source:

Metal used to make cars, trains and planes and the left over petrol products from cars can contaminate the land and storm water. Contaminated storm water can make water unsafe to swim in or drink.

A tanker is a very big ship that transports liquid, usually oil. When a tanker breaks on the sea, the oil can spill into the water. This creates huge problems for the sea animals and birds, because the oil makes it difficult for them to swim, fly and breathe. The oil then washes out on beaches, creating more pollution on land.

Also to build roads and parking lots we need space, so sometimes forests, farm lands etc get destroyed in the process.

Noise pollution

Another way in which modern forms of transport are bad for the environment is through noise pollution. Cars, trucks, trains and especially planes can create a lot of noise that disturbs humans and animals. This will not necessarily affect nature itself, but it can make the environment we live in very unpleasant.

A shipwreck that has become an artificial coral reef. Source:

Not all the effects on the environment are bad. You might think that ship wrecks, like car wrecks, cause pollution. It can indeed, because any chemicals and waste from the ships now go and lie at the bottom of the sea. But old shipwrecks can actually be good for the environment. They can become artificial coral reefs, where a lot of sea animals can live. In fact, research has been done on these artificial reefs. It was found that where corals are sometimes damaged and battle to grow, they grow easily on ship wrecks. The corals anchor themselves to certain parts of the wreck. In some places where corals have become endangered, experts have created fake wrecks to help the corals to grow. Wrecks also give hiding places to a lot of other sea creatures. Wreck diving has become a popular sport. One of the reasons is that you can see a lot of amazing sea life that you would not easily see anywhere else.

1. Name 4 kinds of pollution that different types of transport can cause.
2. What do you think is the type of transport that is the safest for the environment?
3. What do you think is the type of transport that is the most dangerous for the environment?

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