Transportation Around The World!

At some point in the future being able to travel around the world will become relatively cheap. It may not happen in our life times, but at some point being able to travel from London to Sydney might cost as little as $200 and be accomplished in as little as 5 hours. But to do so we will need to rethink and redesign how we travel, what we use as energy sources, and the economics of travel.

It seems far fetched right now, and indeed even far fetched within our century - but maybe five centuries from now, when interplanetary travel has become not only possible but regular, that people will be able to travel on Earth with the ease we currently associate with hailing a taxi for a ride uptown.

Suzanne MacNevin
British-Canadian Feminist Writer

Horseback riding, green, but not practical in the city!

Rethinking Green Transportation

Riding a horse to work sounds like a very green way to get around, but its not very practical when you live in a city and your workplace is 60 minutes away by car. (Which means your primary interest in green transportation probably isn't the environment itself, its your general disgust at being stuck in traffic for 2 hours every work day.)

There is a hierarchy to the concept of green transportation. Itís a simple idea, really.

Think of an upside down pyramid, like in the picture below whereby our method of transportation (walking, cycling, public transit, etc) is all gauged by the amount of greenhouse gases produced by using that form of transportation. eg. A bicycle doesn't cause any greenhouses gases except during the manufacturing process, so its by far one of the cleanest methods of transportation you can get.

Better than horses in fact because you can lock your bicycle up when you get to work, whereas a horse will need a stable and will produce methane, manure, etc.

The goal really of promoting the concept of a Green Transportation Hierarchy is to convince people to reduce their carbon footprint by adopting a greener method of getting to and from work on a daily basis so we are each reducing our carbon footprint, and the more citizens at the pedestrian level, the better for all of us.

However if you live way out in the suburbs or even a satellite city, you may not have that option. Indeed your only option may be to drive via car to work if you simply live where there is no public transit and walking / cycling to work is impractical.

Green Transportation Hierarchy

Some people also choose to walk or cycle to work in order to get in shape, stay fit, live longer, etc, but they really only have that option if they live to close to their workplace.

Thus in theory one of the greenest methods of transportation is "not going to work at all" and instead telecommuting. Which is evidently the future for many of us, as the number of people who now telecommute for work (log in online and work over a computer, webcam, etc) continues to grow. (Between 2004 and 2012 the number of people in the USA who telecommute for work doubled.)

But lest we forget that manufacturing is the backbone of our economy, we must remember again that not everyone can telecommute. Until we devise robots which can build cars, pick berries, sew pants, do all the menial tasks that robotics manufacturers have been claiming their robots could do for decades - well then we will continue to need people in factories doing things by hand. (As it currently stands many of these things are now done by skilled labourers overseas in countries with a standard of living so low it is practically slavery.

We canít walk all the time (especially when you are purchasing a couch or a loveseat) but our need to drive a largerĖsized vehicle certainly is not constant. Our challenge therefore is to increase the availability and use of renting or leasing vehicles so people can rent a truck or van only when they need them - or shop at places that offer to deliver.

Our next trick is to increase the use of vehicles which are more fuel efficient or use alternative fuels like Hydrogen.

Shell hydrogen fueling  station

Hydrogen fuel cells are, without a doubt, the future.

The problem right now is developing a plan whereby we can add hydrogen fuelling stations to all the existing gas stations across North America and make hydrogen a viable option.

Car manufacturers are already in a race to see which company can be the first to bring a hydrogen car to mass market. And once it is available for mass market, work out deals with gasoline dealerships for them to have hydrogen pumps for refuelling.

The only trick to hydrogen production is that is the process of creating hydrogen. The process is hydrolysis, which is done by passing an electric current through salt water and it causes hydrogen bubbles to come to the surface. That hydrogen is then syphoned off and shipped to wherever it is needed. However to do all this, we need electricity - and to fuel enough cars for 300 million Americans, we need a lot of electricity.

Which means that simultaneously we also need more abundant and stable sources of electricity - and the most efficient way to do that would be to build geothermal electric plants. Just 5 geothermal plants would produce enough electricity for ALL of Canada. Canadians wouldn't even need nuclear, coal, wind or solar. All of Canada's electricity needs can be met with just 5 geothermal plants built in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunwick and Newfoundland. And the only difficult one to build would be the one in Ontario where the earth's crust is a bit thicker.

We have the technology to do all these things, but we have chosen not to do it because there is currently no government support for building geothermal plants for electricity and a network of hydrogen refuelling stations.

Part of the problem is that we are still stuck in a gasoline mindset. Which means we need to get politicians driving hydrogen cars and then realize the potential for hydrogen cars not only to provide a better solution to our transportation concerns, but also will eventually be the cheaper option than buying our oil from overseas as oil prices continue to skyrocket in the coming decades.

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