What's the problem?
In Miami-Dade County, the population has reached 2.75 million people, who are all daily moving from place to place. People drive cars each day, increasing our carbon emissions every time we go to school, work, or even simply visit family and friends. A solution to reducing our carbon footprint would be to utilize both public and alternative transportation. Unfortunately public transportation in Miami has not been able to keep up with its urban growth and therefore residents use their cars, which are major contributors to air pollution.
Because of the limited access on the trains, buses that do not offer frequent and consistent service, trolley systems that do not connect to any other transportation systems that extend to other areas, and the immense heat that circulates our city, people tend to prefer individual cars. Public transportation is also very limited to the Miami area, as there is even less access in the outskirts of Miami in places like Hialeah, Pembroke Pines, Homestead, and more. Furthermore, individuals can invest in hybrid cars, as they are quite affordable, but some issues are the lack of infrastructure, like charging stations that would help shift to electric vehicles.
Why should we care?
Transportation is responsible for 30% of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, which damages our natural environment and individual health. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, by emitting ozone, particle pollution, and air toxins from our cars, we threaten air quality and enable air pollution to occur. The health effects of dirty air from transport sources can affect thousands of people, especially those who live near busy roads. However, driving a car doesn’t only affect air pollution in South Florida, but also throughout the entire nation resulting in haze in many national parks and the acidification of lakes. Because air pollution is such a widespread problem, it is imperative to find solutions and take advantage of alternative and public transportation.
What can we do?
The government of Miami-Dade County is investing in public transportation to reduce congestion in highways and carbon emissions. The proposed ideas can be read in the Strategic Miami Area Rapid Transit (SMART) Plan, and although there are still years for the project to be complete, we can learn about the plan and inform residents about it. One step the County is taking is to adopt an electric fleet for government cars. Schools can also be part of the solution by developing transportation programs that reduce emissions and benefit air quality within schools. These programs can provide students, parents and staff with different commuting options and resources. School-wide programs such as the development and use of carpool lanes, no idling zones, support for ride-matching system to assist families and/or staff in developing bike and/or walk groups can help.
Green Schools Challenge Activities:
STE(A)M Activity - Miami Public Transit: Argumentative Essay
CREATE YOUR OWN - Submit Lesson Plan click here
Schools can choose to do more than one activity but maximum amount of points a school can earn for this topic is the same. Points for participation will be based on a rubric. Download here.