Global Warming: A Rail View
Rail transportation in North America will increase as demand driven price increases of petroleum make it increasingly too expensive to drive a solo passenger vehicle for intermediate distances. For longer distance, another equation will reduce airline passenger miles for long distances. Because of global dying--we are past the tipping point of global warming--the most efficient long-term transportation is needed to improve our chances of not passing the recovery point. To fly a person from New York to Los Angeles injects over 3000 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere. The long-distant trains of the past could transport the same person for a few hundred pounds. The argument that flying saves times flies in the face of the possible fact that we need to save our lives on earth from too much CO2. (I wrote a paper on rising CO2 in 1982.) Hours saved by flying may be lives wasted, a Pyrrhic victory of winning a tactical time battle while losing the strategic time war.
Traveling on the train, one sees many indication of climate change. Swamps dry out and burn. Forest burn in spring when the weather is supposed to be wet. Trees change colors in mangy pattern rather than a uniformed color. In Churchill, I was told the ice was melting three or four weeks early. Trappers described the changes they were finding in animal behavior.
On-rail presentation: Several times on the Canadian, I was allowed to present without formal endorsement or announcement an overview of global warming. Consistently, people said they understood the dynamics better than before. And, sadly, they agreed that gloom and doom may be closer to the truth than the claim that man cannot harm the earth.
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