Is Motor Racing in The 21st Century Morally Irresponsible?

Nick JohnstonCorrespondent ISeptember 7, 2008

Before you dismiss this as a hippie, tree-hugging rant against a popular and long-running international sport, I have to admit that I am a fan of F1.

I just watched a thrilling race at Spa-Francorchamps, where Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen battled each other and the worsening weather in the dying stages. It displayed to me the pure driving ability of these men and the importance of tactics in their sport.

But, with global warming and climate change an unavoidable reality in the world, aren't motorsports acting, if not immoral, then without global conscience of their actions?

Whilst Honda have displayed a recognition of environmental issues by giving over their livery to Earth Dreams, an environmental awareness program who describe themselves as "a driving force for good" their cars still spew out 50 tons of CO2 each year, equivalent to 11 London-Sydney flights.

Emissions per kilometre in these vehicles are nine times those of an average new car, prompting many to highlight the irony of this partnership between an environmental group and a team in one of the least 'green' sports.

Added to this are the flights of not only the drivers, but also the team members and their equipment. When one adds together these emissions and multiplies them by the 11 F1 teams, we get a picture of how damaging this sport is to the environment.

Obviously, its not just F1. Every other motorsport, be it NASCAR, MotoGP, or any other of a host of events, is contributing greatly to climate change.

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NASCAR is estimated to see one million miles of racing at five miles per gallon each year, excluding practices. Being unregulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, they do not have to use mufflers, catalytic converters or other emission controlling devices.

In researching this article I found IndyCar to be the only motorsport making a concerted effort towards environmental morality. As of the 2007 season, their cars have all been powered by ethanol, a renewable crop-based fuel with lower CO2 emissions and reduced import emissions.

Unfortunately, ethanol has its own drawbacks, but the effort is evident. Motorsports should be doing whatever they can to promote environmental awareness and lead the way for greener consumer automobiles.

Until then, motorsport, in general, is undoubtedly acting without morals. It is an issue that is all too easy to dismiss, but that, for the sake of the environment must be addressed by all involved.

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