The discussion about alternative fuels has reached all corners of the globeÂ as all nations and the global economy are effected by the costs and means of transporting people and goods. In many facets of our lives we are new and retooled technologies are starting to reach the market place. These technologies areÂ intended toÂ assist us in lowering our individual environmental impact.Â WithÂ innovations in hybrid vehicles, continued research into alternative fuels, windmills and solar panels that harness natures energies into efficient electricity, to passive heating designs in Architecture; the discussions are definitely growing. So when and how will those discussions gel into a comprehensive strategy and plan toward action? Who will lead the way?
For the United States of America the attention has danced around our thirst for oil and the effects of the global oil markets. In order to lessen our dependency on oil the proposal of fuel alternatives has picked up steam and seems to be making a slow and necessary crawl toward fruition. A number of ethanol refineries are in the works and a lot of research is being conducted on ways of improving ethanol’s efficiency in our combustion engines. Bio-Diesel is another alternative fuel that is very slowly beginning to find its way to more filling stations across the country.
Both Bio-Diesel and ethenol, when blended at some percentage with refined oil, reduce the emissions of a regular car or SUV and give the average driver some sense of doing something for the environment or against dangerous oil barrons or fundamentalist religions or whoever your target of frustration. However, the United States has failed to pursue any of the other familiar alternatives that some other nations have adopted: High Speed Rail.
When the railroad first stretched from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific CoastÂ it was the elite means, and most efficient means, to transport people and goods across an ever expanding nation. But as automobiles and roads grew more readily available more people opted for the personal freedom of their car than to the steady clackity-clack of the rails. In those days fuel was cheap and the open road lie ahead. Now that cars are the rule of transportation rather than the alternative, and fuel is far from cheap and the roads are littered with SUV’s and large trucks, maybe it is time again for the United States to unify for a more massive means of travel.
High Speed Trains have been utilized in Japan and parts of Europe for decades now. Some of their first High Speed Trains are already in museums while newer, more efficient models zip their cargo along the country side. Today, as Turkey, Taiwan, Argentina and Mexico, are all moving forward with their plans for High Speed Rail lines. What is it about Americans and the American Government that stops us short of discussion the High Speed Alternative? Those states, such as Florida and California, who have dared to begin the research to begin the hopeful planning of a High Speed Rail system have all been mired by political bureaucracy, small budgets and a lack of voter urgency to demand progress.
This is not a discussion of disbanding our Highways and eliminating cars from our lives (even I love my car too much to want that).Â It is merely about providing a logical, efficient and practical alternative to the transportation necessity thatÂ defines this vast nation. Sure the price to start from our current Railroad situation to where we would need to be is steep, but (as I have heard mentioned by others to rally support for other causes) so is the price of doing nothing.
…Something to think about.
…Something to talk about.