To the editor,
Efforts to try to lower the price of gas through increasing supply, like those trying to deny the reality of climate change, are futile. Market forces are already at work to pump out the last of the easy to get oil with the sheer price of oil and gas. What we must focus on, and fast, is the rapid rebuilding of our rail network: in a high-tech, highly efficient and very high speed way. Doing this will solve both the gas price issue and the much more urgent climate crisis concern.
Electrified, the rail network could easily eventually run entirely on wind, solar, waste methane, cogeneration, wave, tidal and small scale hydro-electric generated energy. Electric trains are so vastly more efficient than autos and airplanes, that a significant expansion of wind farms initially, and diverse renewables over time, can keep pace with the added need for electricity, without more coal or nuclear plants.
Electric trains get about twice the efficiency of diesel-electric trains per equivalent energy input. And diesel-electric trains get exponentially better fuel efficiency per freight ton or per passenger mile than automobiles and airplanes. With trains that can easily go 200+ miles per hour, getting this same efficiency, it is the logical choice that industrialized countries all over the world have developed already.
Why are we, the world’s superpower, failing in the high speed rail development? Some say that because we are more spread out, that trains will not work. In fact, the exact opposite is true. The farther we go, the more energy we save going by fuel efficient high speed rail compared to energy wasteful automobile or airplane.
Meanwhile, while gas prices now top the media’s attention, it is the
climate crisis where we should put all of our focus.
The tens of thousands killed in the latest cyclone in
The changes that top scientists are warning about are of mass warming of a scale threatening a large portion of humanity through loss of drinking water and food supplies, flooding and destruction of homes and severe wind events like tornadoes. Sixty percent of our planet’s plant and animal species are now threatened with extinction, at the very least in just a few decades.
We can solve both the gas price and the climate crisis issues with wind and solar powered high speed trains. We can use off the shelf technology and once we build the infrastructure, the energy source is free and produces no greenhouse gases.
We should take the time to understand the threat, and media should make the climate crisis a daily part of their coverage, to be close to commensurate to the seriousness of it. It is not just the loss of the polar bear that is at stake. The polar bear is the canary in the coal mine.
Let us collectively demand action to protect the polar bear, pass the Safe Climate Act (now pending in Congress), and create a fossil-free transportation infrastructure that can greatly improve the quality of life of all Americans. The roads will still be there if people want to drive.
You can find out more and contact your Congress person at www.safeclimateact.org. Please take the time to let your elected official know your position, before it is too late.
Kister is the Author of Arctic Quest: Odyssey Through a Threatened Wilderness Area; Arctic Melting: How Climate Change is Destroying One of the World’s Largest Wilderness Areas and Against All Odds: The Struggle to Save The Ridges. He is also the producer of the 2006 film, Caribou People. The second edition of Arctic Melting is coming out this September, with 100+ more pages and thoroughly updated throughout.
Feel free to edit as needed, or run as a column. An electronic version of this is available at www.chadkister.com and www.safeclimateact.org.