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Categories of Environmental Impact

What distinctions can be made between the three categories of environmental impacts? In addressing
this question, choose one mode of transportation and give concrete examples and facts that supports

your points.

Categories of Environmental Impact

What distinctions can be made between the three categories of environmental impacts? In addressing
this question, choose one mode of transportation and give concrete examples and facts that supports
your points.

Environmental impacts can be classified into three categories. These categories include
direct impacts, the indirect impacts, and the cumulative impacts. In the case of direct impacts,
they involve direct interaction of the environment with activities. This can also involve an
economic component of the environment. In the case of indirect impact, they cause secondary
effects to the environment, that is, they are the product of direct impact which may be termed as


complex. Finally, for cumulative impacts, it involves the combination of effects of various
projects to affect the environment in the long run. All these may include the effects of projects
that are ongoing, those that are past and those that are planned to be done in the future.

Direct impacts

In road transport, direct impact on the environment is evident in our daily life. Moving
vehicles cause emission of toxic gases such as carbon monoxide, carbon IV oxide, and sulfur
dioxide. These gases are as a result of incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons hence causing air
pollution. These gases cause the temperature of the earth to increase by trapping solar rays which
are escaping from the earth hence causing global warming. The release of these gases from the
motor vehicle is directly affecting the environment and can, therefore, be said to be the direct
impact to the environment. This is also the case for the disposal of the batteries in the
environment as they will release SiNW materials which will cause global warming (Li, Gao, Li,
& Yuan, 2014).

Indirect impacts

Road transportation also affects the environment indirectly. This is because toxic exhaust
gases, such sulfur dioxide mix with rainwater to form sulphuric IV acid which goes to the soil.
This lead to increase in the concentration of hydrogen ions and causes insufficient nitrogen hence
reducing the pH of the soil causing acidity. Acidity in the soil causes lack of the primary
nutrients required for proper plant growth leading to low of production (Meier, Stoessel,


Jungbluth, Juraske, Schader, & Stolze, 2015). This may lead to loss of biodiversity and death of
human beings due to starvation.

Cumulative Impacts

The final type of category of environmental impact is the cumulative impact. This can be
seen in the transportation industry whereby continued use of motor vehicles and the road
transport has long-term impacts to the environment. These impacts are as a result of past use of
motor vehicles, their current use and will also be the case for the future use of these vehicles. An
excellent example of this is the effects of increasing ocean level which is occurring gradually and
is expected to occur in the future. Though most people can view this as an indirect impact, it is
cumulative since it is currently occurring due to the present and the past and is expected to occur
in the future. The increase in ocean level is linked to the road transportation in that emitted gases
will cause global warming. This will, in turn, increase the temperature of the earth. The heat due
to the high temperature will cause polar ice to melt and hence increase the amount of water in the
ocean. This will increase the ocean level and can lead to submergence of islands that are not too
high from the sea level. The other effects of this increased rainfall in the mainland which will be
caused by the increase in the evaporation rate of ocean water. This can be linked to flooding in
the mainland, which will eventually lead to starvation and loss of both property and lives.


The transport industry can affect the environment through the above- discussed ways.
These effects are diverse and evident in our daily lives and need to be controlled to maintain our
environment as well as to conserve it for our future generation.




Meier, M. S., Stoessel, F., Jungbluth, N., Juraske, R., Schader, C., & Stolze, M. (2015)
Environmental impacts of organic and conventional agricultural products–Are the
differences captured by life cycle assessment?. Journal of Environmental Management,
149, 193-208


Li, B., Gao, X., Li, J., & Yuan, C. (2014). Life cycle environmental impact of high-capacity
lithium ion battery with silicon nanowires anode for electric vehicles. Environmental
science & technology, 48(5), 3047-3055

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