(Updated with latest Arctic ice and temperature CO2 relationships 19 Feb 2013)
Despite indisputable evidence of the connection between greenhouse gas increases
in the atmosphere and global warming, certain sections of the fossil fuel industry
launched a concerted and coordinated campaign starting from the mid 1990s to undermine
climate change science and the scientists who work in this field. Their purpose was
to create doubt in the public's mind about the reality of global warming, and delay
regulations which might limit greenhouse gas emissions to the environment.
Traffic congestion and increased fuel costs have become part of daily life for the
average motorist. However these are more likely to get worse as oil supplies become
depleted and economic growth in the globalised economy drives an inexorable increase
in transport use. Meanwhile, securing oil supplies has been a major cause of international
unrest as developed economies attempt to secure supplies from unstable countries,
requiring more public funding on military expenditure.
For the environmentalist rarely a day passes without dire predictions of the effect
of climate change on weather extremes, agriculture yields, ecological disaster or
sea levels. A recent report by NASA estimates that road transport is responsible
for 50% of the net short term radiative forcing leading to global warming. Meanwhile
urban populations are still subject to pollution levels from petroleum fuelled traffic,
these regularly exceed recommended levels causing an increased chance of a range
of chronic illnesses and leading to a drain on health services.
Wherever your priorities lie, it is unquestionable that we can’t continue to rely
on hydrocarbon based fuels for transport, and the need for alternative energy sources
is imminent. Unfortunately, transportation research and government policy aspirations
have been dogged with unambitious and one-dimensional thinking. Examples of this
include a straight swap of internal combustion engines for electric powered vehicles,
or replacing private cars with public transport, or road with rail freight.
Although these technologies can be made to work; to be desirable, economic and effective
they must be transformed into a flexible and competitive mode of transport fit for
the 21st century.
This site focuses on how innovative techniques can be used to provide practical transport
and environmental solutions without restricting convenience, business competitiveness
The futility of using technology over innovation
"Technological progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal."
Reducing our use of petroleum and carbon emissions requires fundamental changes in
the way we both travel and use motorised transport. Whilst technological advances
might allow vehicles to become more fuel efficient and use cleaner and more reliable
energy sources, on our present course these initiatives will be overwhelmed by the
sheer increase in global transport use. This is driven by the vast increase in middle
class households especially in the developing world.
“Growth for the sake of growth s the ideology of the cancer cell” -Edward Abbey
It is estimated that there will be 10 times as many people living in the year 2050
than there are cars on the road today, and using our present economic paradigm, all
these people will be encouraged to consume excessively, in pursuit of economic growth.
"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created
them." Albert Einstein
Whilst alternative technologies such as electric vehicles powered from renewable
energy sources provide a route to a more sustainable culture, they are likely to
remain limited to niche applications unless they can be manufactured and operated
environmentally and economically. On the other hand idealistic notions of radical
technological rejection are likely to be met with ridicule by the majority of people,
and will more likely hinder rather than encourage our change to a sustainable culture.
On this site we examine realistic and practical measures we can use to minimise our
petroleum use without compromising mobility or flexibility. Whilst the use of some
new technologies are proposed, these are used in conjunction with more prosaic methods
of application which could be used relatively quickly without the risks of fundamental
technological developments which might never mature. This requires a paradigm change
of thinking away from our isolated concepts of private transportation.
There needs to be a focus on the technologies and concepts that can produce real
sustainability in transport, since there are fundamental limits what can be achieved
whilst still retaining large fossil fuelled vehicles. Only by either radically reducing
their size, sharing journeys, or by transferring the energy source back to stationary
low carbon sources can large reductions in carbon be realistically achieved.
Dynamic Ridesharing - Our public transport system needs to be radically overhauled,
since it can’t deliver significant environmental benefits or a cost and time competitive
service compared with the car outside metropolitan areas. However, private car journeys
due to their high frequency and diverse nature could easily be transformed into an
environmentally advantageous, flexible and efficient public transport service by
coordinating how drivers and passengers travel together. This concept is called Coordinated
Shared Transport (COAST).
Much smaller vehicles for short trips - Modern cars have become far too large and
complex for short journeys and they are often used to carry only one person. This
means the volume inside the vehicle is typically 100 times greater and the weight
20 times greater than the driver it carries. This is a grossly inefficient method
of transporting people both environmentally and logistically. Much smaller vehicles
could be used to attain a much cheaper mode of travel with very low environmental
impact. However, to be commercially attractive, a method of traffic priority must
be provided for such vehicles via extra lanes, special access points and underpasses
providing a comprehensive parallel road infrastructure. These would allow them to
by-pass traffic jams and bottle-necks so drivers can achieve reduced journey times
relative to those driving larger vehicles. This system is called the Low Profile
Vehicle with Complimentary infrastructure (LOCI) and is shown in figure 3.
Integrated Infrastructure to assist electrification - Whilst conventionally sized
electric cars have the potential to solve many environmental problems they still
lack the range to cover many journey's. A car ferrying and charging system could
provide a means to extend the range of conventionally sized cars for longer journeys
without increasing emissions, net fuel consumption or resorting to the use of extortionately
expensive batteries in the cars. This concept is called the Electric Car Transporter
(ELECAT) and is illustrated in figure 4. This ferrying system could also pay for
itself by avoiding the need to build extra highways and allowing drivers to utilise
their time more efficiently during the journey.
For freight, dedicated tracks could be built, or possibly parts of the disused rail
network could be modified, to accommodate electric powered trucks and buses enabling
them to be charged in transit and thereby extending their range. The use of a track
would take heavy traffic off the roads and allow them to carry multiple trailers,
thereby combining the logistical flexibility of road transport with the environmental
benefits of heavier loads and electric power. This concept is called the Integrated
Infrastructure for Road and Rail Transport using Electrification (INITIATE) shown
in figure 5.
These four concepts supplement one another, reduce the energy required for transportation
and can potentially acquire this from low carbon sources such as overnight nuclear
power stations. It is suggested this approach represents our best opportunity to
attain an affordable, practicable, and sustainable transport solution