Adapting the Past to Improve the Future
Though the trend of greenhouse gas emission is declining, the equivalent of 6,870 million metric tons of CO2 was emitted in the United States in 2014. About one quarter of this pollution is emitted by the transportation sector. Instead of waiting for the next technological development in transportation to provide us with clean vehicles, what if we could adopt past transportation systems to reduce our emissions and increase future sustainability? This study explores the idea of adopting intra- and inter-urban electric rail and a people’s car to reduce the annual U.S. transportation emissions using historical examples, the most recent studies published on emissions, and articles discussing the sociological impacts of transportation. Recently, the U.S. has seen the biggest railroad investments in the last 100 years, giving the country a huge opportunity to reintroduce electric rail. Since it is not feasible to reach everyone with public transit, private vehicles also need to shift towards sustainability as well by using low-emission technology currently available in a flexible manner so it is possible to upgrade the vehicle when newer technology is released. The major limitation of this study is the scope of this issue, and due to this the cultural feasibility of adopting these systems, the financial cost, detailed estimates on the actual amounts of emissions prevented, and alternative transportation systems were not heavily addressed.