Earth Day 2011: Greening Transport
More than ever these days, the way we get around - whether by car, bus, train or airplane - has been in the daily news. Here in the United States, gas prices have now risen to $4 a gallon, with no sight of the prices going down anytime soon. Also, with the recent near airplane catastrophes due to sleeping air traffic controllers along with the ongoing worries about terrorism and TSA searches, air travel has become less pleasant as well.
The bottom line: Americans need to reduce their dependency on fuel for these modes of transportation not only because of the many battles in the Middle East, because also because of the growing global climate problem. Each year cars emit more than 300 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere in the United States alone. Aviation accounts for three percent of carbon emissions globally and rising.
With all this said, it is time to rethink alternative transportation methods. Of course, I am not advocating not taking a plane at all, but maybe limiting air travel to when it is absolutely necessary. I have to travel long distance a great deal for business, but in recent years I have embraced web conferencing tools like Skype to connect with business associates around the world. Not only is this better for the planet, but also on the wallet.
For everyday travel, there are also many great alternatives that I embrace. I don't own a car for both health and environmental reasons. By not having a car, it forces me to be more physically active and walk (or in some cases run) to catch a bus or train or just do stuff in my neighborhood. Not having a car and walking and taking public transit also allows me to be better acquainted with my surroundings and the people around you. Whereas if I had a car, I would feel more isolated because of the lack of interactions.
Furthermore, it makes no sense to own a car if you primarily live and work in a major city with decent public transportation like I do. Recently my city implemented a bike share program, which is also a great transport alternative. I am also a big fan of Amtrak and the growing light rail movement.
But even if you don't live in a big city, there are many ways to reduce your carbon impact. For example, if you live in the suburbs, instead of traveling in a car, why not use a bike or take the commuter rail for part of or for the whole trip. Also ask your employer if you can telecommute on some days.
Every little step makes a difference in every one's lives!