Air pollution | Kids' Environmental Report Card

When it comes to the air that they breathe, most kids feel it is "Extremely Important" to reduce air pollution. That response drew the most votes, followed closely by "Somewhat Important," in a recent Kids' Environmental Report Card poll.

As many kids already know, air pollution is closely linked to climate change, an even greater concern about the environment, according to previous Scholastic polls.

Many scientists believe that the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is raising the earth's temperature and changing the climate.

"Transportation, specifically the combustion of fossil fuels in our vehicles, is the single largest source of human-made greenhouse gases," according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

How little? How much?

Most vehicles produce several times their weight in greenhouse gases each year. The amount of greenhouse gas generated varies considerably from one kind of car or truck to the next.

For instance, the EPA estimates that, on average, an eight-cylinder Chevy Tahoe truck produces 13.1 tons of greenhouse gases in a year. A hybrid version of this vehicle will produce 8.7 tons of greenhouse gases during this same period. That output is 1.4 tons greater than that of a four-cylinder Mini Cooper convertible.

Such figures tell us how important it is to cut back on fuel consumption. That means driving more fuel-efficient vehicles and - equally important — driving less.

Or, as SnapelisMyHomie, a regular contributor to Scholastic's Save the Planet message board, wrote:

"If you can easily walk somewhere, don't pollute the air by taking a car."