Published today in IOP Publishing's Environmental Research Letters, Monday, June 8, 2009, researchers from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, have created a framework to help us calculate the true environmental cost of travel.
The new framework incorporates less-considered environmental impacts including the damage done by the power plants generating electricity for train travel and upkeep of train stations to the intensive energy costs of airport runway construction and ore extraction undertaken to build a car.
The catalogue of emissions that the researchers have compiled are taken from their own American context but the concept and framework is applicable universally – looking at the full range of vehicles, from hatchbacks and pick-ups to light and heavy railways, small aircrafts and jumbo jets.
From cataloguing the varied environmental costs the researchers come to some surprising conclusions. A comparison between light railways in both Boston and San Franciso show that despite Boston boasting a light railway with low operational energy use, their LRT is a far larger greenhouse gas (GHG) emitter because 82 per cent of the energy generated in Boston is fossil-fuel based, compared to only 49 per cent in San Francisco.
Total life-cycle energy inputs and GHG emissions contribute an additional 155 per cent for rail, 63 per cent for cars and buses, and 32 per cent for air systems over vehicle exhaust pipe operation.
The researchers also touch on the effect of low passenger occupancy and show that we are naïve to automatically assume one form of transport is more environmentally friendly than another. They conclude from their calculations that a half-full Boston light railway is only as environmentally friendly, per kilometre traveled, as a midsize aircraft at 38 per cent occupancy.
Mikhail Chester, researcher at Berkeley, said, "This study creates a framework for comprehensive environmental inventorying of several modes and future assessment of non-conventional fuels and vehicles can follow this methodology in creating technology-specific results.
"Through the use of life-cycle environmental assessments, energy and emission reduction decision-making can benefit from the identified interdependencies among processes, services and products."
Joe Winters | EurekAlert!
Safeguarding sustainability through forest certification mapping
27.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Dune ecosystem modelling
26.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.
For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...
What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.
To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...
The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....
A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...
Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision
Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...
21.07.2017 | Event News
19.07.2017 | Event News
12.07.2017 | Event News
21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences
21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy