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Scientific models suggest that increased buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will raise the earth's temperature and change the earth's climate.  The buildup is largely due to the release of carbon dioxide (CO2) upon burning fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, to power industries and transportation.  CO2 levels in the atmosphere have fluctuated significantly before the advent of human industrialization; nonetheless, data suggest that the current buildup of CO2 is happening much faster than at any time in the past 10,000 years.  Such a rapid change is likely to produce more extreme weather, rising sea levels that erode coastal areas and contaminate fresh water supplies, threats to agriculture and wildlife, and public health risks from infectious disease and heat deaths.

In the US economy, the transportation sector accounts for 32.6% of all CO2 emissions. (The production from other sectors is as follows:  commercial: 16.0%, Industrial: 32.2%, and residential: 19.2%.)   The US Department of Energy claims that every gallon of gasoline your vehicle burns puts 20 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and that choosing a vehicle that gets 25 rather than 20 miles per gallon will prevent 10 tons of carbon dioxide from being released over the lifetime of your vehicle.  Consequently, consumers can greatly influence the amount of CO2 emissions by making smart choices about the automobiles they drive.

This data set suggests that there is a relationship between engine size and fuel economy, thus one might expect a relationship between engine size and CO2 emissions.  Note that the gasoline powered cars selected in this data set are of several classes,   subcompact, minicompact and compact, so there is some variability in their size and weight.  Because data on engine size and gas mileage are not for the same vehicle, it is difficult to conclude that a given change in engine size for any one vehicle will result in a specific increase or decrease in highway mileage.  In general though, driving a vehicle with a smaller engine will more likely consume less gasoline and produce fewer emissions.  Students can fit a curve (trendline) through the data with software such as Excel or Minitab and determine a mathematical relatioship between engine size and highway mileage; a power law regression model has an R2 of about 0.7.

In addition to reducing CO2 emissions, the purchase of higher mileage vehicles will reduce oil imports, conserve fossil fuel resources for future generations, reduce other harmful emissions such as CO, NO, and NO2 , and save consumers money in gasoline costs.  To calculate the savings in running a more fuel efficient car, visit the website http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/savemoney.shtml.

Reference for data:   Model Year 1999 Fuel Economy Guide, United States Department of Energy.   www.fueleconomy.gov

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 US Department of Energy, 1999 Fuel Economy Guide class make and model Engine Size (liters) Highway Mileage (mpg) two seater Acura NSX 3.2 24 two seater BMW M Coupe 3.2 26 two seater BMW M Roadster 3.2 26 two seater BMW Z3 Coupe 2.8 26 two seater BMW Z3 Roadster 2.5 27 two seater BMW Z3 Roadster 2.8 26 two seater Chevy Corvette 5.7 28 two seater Ferrari 550 Maranello 5.5 14 two seater Ferrari F355/355F1 3.5 14 two seater Lamborghini Diablo (4WD) 5.7 13 two seater Mazda MX-5 Miata 1.8 29 two seater Mercedes-Benz SL500 5.0 23 two seater Mercedes-Benz SL600 6.0 19 two seater Mercedes-Benz Kompressor 2.3 30 two seater Plymoth Prowler 3.5 23 two seater Porsche Boxster 2.5 26 minicompact Porsche 911 Carrera 3.4 25 minicompact Toyota Paseo 1.5 41 subcompact Acura 2.3CL 2.3 31 subcompact Acura 3.0CL 3.0 28 subcompact Acura Integra 1.8 32 subcompact Bentley Azura 6.8 16 subcompact Bentley Continental SC 6.8 16 subcompact Bentley Continental T 6.8 16 subcompact BMW 323I 2.5 31 subcompact BMW 328I 2.8 29 subcompact BMW M3 3.2 26 subcompact Chevy Camaro 3.8 30 subcompact Chevy Camaro 5.7 28 subcompact Chevy Cavalier 2.2 34 subcompact Chevy Cavalier 2.4 33 subcompact Chevy Metro 1.0 47 subcompact Chevy Metro 1.3 43 subcompact Ferrari 456 MGT 5.5 16 subcompact Ford Escort 2.0 33 subcompact Ford Mustang 3.8 29 subcompact Ford Mustang 4.6 24 subcompact Honda Civic 1.6 37 subcompact Honda Civic HX 1.6 43 subcompact Honda Prelude 2.2 27 subcompact Hyundai Accent 1.5 37 subcompact Hyundai Tiburon 2.0 31 subcompact Jaguar XK8 4.0 25 subcompact Lexus SC300 3.0 24 subcompact Lexus SC400 4.0 25 subcompact Mercedes-Benz CLK320 3.2 29 subcompact Mercedes-Benz CLK430 4.3 25 subcompact Mitsubishi 3000GT 3.0 25 subcompact Mitsubishi Eclipse 2.0 33 subcompact Mitsubishi Eclipse 2.4 30 subcompact Mitsubishi Eclipse (4WD) 2.0 28 subcompact Mitsubishi Mirage 1.5 40 subcompact Mitsubishi Mirage 1.8 36 subcompact Nissan Sentra 1.6 39 subcompact Nissan 200SX 2.0 31 subcompact Pontiac Firebird/Trans Am 3.8 30 subcompact Pontiac Firebird/Trans Am 5.7 28 subcompact Pontiac Sunfire 2.2 34 subcompact Pontiac Sunfire 2.4 33 subcompact Saab 9-3 2.0 27 subcompact Saturn SC 1.9 38 subcompact Subaru Impreza 2.2 29 subcompact Subaru Impreza 2.5 29 subcompact Suzuki Esteem 1.6 37 subcompact Suzuki Esteem 2.0 35 subcompact Suzuki Swift 1.3 43 subcompact Toyota Celica 2.2 28 subcompact Toyota Tercel 1.5 40 subcompact Volkswagon Cabrio 2.0 31 subcompact Volkswagon New Beetle 2.0 31 compact Audi A4 1.8 32 compact Audi A4 2.8 29 compact Audi A4 Quatro 1.8 29 compact Audi A4 Quatro 2.8 27 compact Bentley Continental R 6.8 16 compact BMW 318TI 1.9 32 compact BMW 323I 2.5 29 compact BMW 328I 2.8 29 compact BMW 528I 2.8 29 compact BMW 540I 4.4 23 compact Chevy Prizm 1.8 37 compact Chrysler Sebring 2.0 31 compact Chrysler Sebring - convertible 2.4 30 compact Chrysler Sebring 2.5 27 compact Daewoo Lanos 1.6 36 compact Daewoo Lanos 1.5 36 compact Daewoo Nubira 2.0 31 compact Dodge Avenger 2.0 32 compact Dodge Avenger 2.5 27 compact Dodge Neon 2.0 39 compact Ford Contour 2.0 34 compact Ford Contour 2.5 28 compact Ford Contour FFV 2.0 21 compact Ford Escort 2.0 37 compact Hyundai Elantra Sedan 2.0 33 compact Infinit G20 2.0 31 compact Jaguar XJ8 4.0 24 compact Jaguar XJR 4.0 22 compact Kia Sephia 1.8 31 compact Lexus ES300 3.0 26 compact Lincoln-Mercury Cougar 2.0 34 compact Lincoln-Mercury Cougar 2.5 28 compact Lincoln-Mercury Mystique 2.0 34 compact Lincoln-Mercury Mystique 2.5 28 compact Lincoln-Mercury Tracer 2.0 37 compact Mazda Millenia 2.3 28 compact Mazda Millenia 2.5 27 compact Mazda Protégé 1.6 34 compact Mazda Protégé 1.8 30 compact Mercedes-Benz C230 Kompressor 2.3 29 compact Mercedes-Benz C280 2.8 27 compact Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG 4.3 23 compact Mercedes-Benz CL500 5.0 22 compact Mercedes-Benz CL600 6.0 19 compact Nissan Altima 2.4 31 compact Oldsmobile Alero 2.4 30 compact Oldsmobile Alero 3.4 28 compact Plymouth Neon 2.0 39 compact Pontiac Grand AM 2.4 30 compact Pontiac Grand AM 3.4 28 compact Saturn SL 1.9 38 compact Subaru Legacy AWD 2.2 29 compact Subaru Legacy AWD 2.5 27 compact Toyota Solera 2.2 32 compact Toyota Solera 3.0 28 compact Toyota Corolla 1.8 38 compact Volkswagon Golf 2.0 31 compact Volkswagon GTI 2.0 32 compact Volkswagon GTI 2.8 26 compact Volkswagon Jetta 2.0 31 compact Volkswagon Jetta 2.8 26 compact Volvo C70 2.3 28

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