Building the World

October 25, 2019
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TRANSPORT: frequent flier programs

“Red Arrows at the Royal Air Show” August 2011 Image: wikimedia. Will frequent flier programs change with the climate?

First, it was Greta Thunberg who traveled throughout Europe to speak to, among others, the French National Assembly; the teen climate activist, nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, declared the transport decision as a preference for lower-emissions travel. A new word came into common parlance: Flygskam (Swedish) or “Flight Shame.”

Greta Thunberg who traveled by train in Europe and by sailboat to the United Nations in New York, USA, in 2019. Image: wikimedia

Next, Imperial College London and Richard Carmichael reported to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), an independent advisory agency of the UK government, that the nation’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, to meet the Paris Agreement of COP21, must address air travel: “Flying is a uniquely high-impact activity and is the quickest and cheapest way for a consumer to increase their carbon footprint.”

As a result, frequent flier programs, both of airlines and of credit cards, might have to go. Citing data that just 15% of the UK population takes 70% of the flights, CCC report states: “Given the scope for frequent fliers to have carbon footprints many times that of the average UK household, a lack of policy in this area is likely to be increasingly seen as inconsistent and unjust and risks damaging engagement with climate action.” (Carmichael 2019)

In the United States, 12% of Americans fly more than six round-trips per year; mainly business travelers, these frequent fliers are responsible for two-thirds of air travel, and therefore participating in aviation emissions. That’s 3 tons of carbon dioxide per year, per flier. Some policy specialists differentiate between business and pleasure air travel. But 83% of Americans drive cars, and most heat or cool their homes – activities that also cause considerable carbon emissions.

Concerned about aviation’s future, some airlines are staying ahead of the trend: British Airways, Aer Lingus, and Iberia (art of IAG, International Airlines Group) announced a strategic sustainability plan to 1)replace older aircraft, 2)invest in sustainable jet fuel, and 3) develop new technologies that take carbon out of the atmosphere. (Guy, 2019) Businesses and universities are starting to allow longer travel time for staff who travel for work, so that they may avoid flying; train travel, including the Channel Tunnel, is recommended. Japan is updating Shinkansen (high speed rail originally built for the 1956 Olympics) in anticipation of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Saying “bye” to frequent flier programs? Image: wikimedia

Do you have frequent flier miles? What is your opinion on how incentives in transport may change?

Carmichael, Richard. “Behavior change, public engagement, and Net Zero.” 10 October 2019. Committee on Climate Change, Centre for Energy Policy and Technology and Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London. https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/behaviour-change-public-engagement-and-net-zero-imperial-college-london/behaviour-change-public-engagement-and-net-zero-richard-carmichael/

Guy, Jack. “Ban air miles to combat climate crisis, recommends UK research.” 15 October 2019. CNN/Travel. https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/air-miles-ban-report-scli-intl/index.html.

International Airlines Group (IAG). “Sustainability.” https://www.iairgroup.com/en/sustainability

Tabuchi, Hiroko and Nadja Popovich. “How Guilty Should You Feel About Flying?” 17 October 2019, The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/10/17/climate/flying-shame-emissions.html.

Thunberg, Greta. “Address to the National Assembly” July 23, 2019. France. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESDpzwWrmGg

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G. Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unporte

May 20, 2019
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TRANSPORT: Channel Tunnel Celebrates 25 Years

“Chris Froome: First person to cycle through Eurotunnel.” In the Chunnel’s third ‘service’ tunnel. Image: wikimedia.

Frank P. Davidson, American co-founder, in 1957, of the Channel Tunnel Study Group, coined the word “chunnel” for the fixed link between France and England that had been a dream of Napoleon, and drawn up as an engineering plan by Albert Mathieu-Flavier in 1802. Many historians credit Davidson whose Study Group worked with Charles Dunn of International Engineering Company/Morrison-Knudsen. Bechtel Corporation, Brown & Root, and banker Thomas Lamont, to design the three-tunnel system, as the “father of the Channel Tunnel.”

“Folkestone White Horse” carved by artist Charlie Newington as a Millennial Landmark on the cliffs overlooking the English Terminus of the Channel Tunnel.

Built by 13,000 workers from France and England, the tunnel opened 6 May 1994 and was immediately named one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. It’s an economic, and environmental, success. The Channel Tunnel has proved valuable to participating economies (2018 figures):

Total passengers: 20,611,337

Total cars: 2,610,242

Total freight trains: 1,797

Total trucks: 1,641,638

Total trade through the Channel Tunnel: Euro 137.8bn

Source: Ernst & Young 2018

ENVIRONMENT: Economic contribution is matched, perhaps exceeded, by environmental value: the tunnel helps to collect and mitigate emissions, making the Eurostar trip from London to Paris 90% cleaner than a short-haul air flight.

ANNIVERSARY GIFT: For its 20th anniversary, in 2014, Eurotunnel added another Channel to the Chunnel (the neologism was coined by Davidson): mobile telephone and internet came to the Channel Tunnel. What should the Channel Tunnel do for its 25th anniversary. One possibility: enhancing the power of connectivity, seeing borders as opportunities, not barriers.

Davidson, Frank P. MACRO (New York: William Morrow and Company, 1983). ISBN: 0688021824. Pages: 38-40; 94-102, 296-97.

Davidson, Frank P. editor. With photography by Lilian Kemp. Tunneling and Underground Transport: Future Developments in Technology, Economics, and Policy. (New York: Elsevier, 1985). ISBN: 0444011307

Ernst & Young LLP: Peter Arnold, Harriet Walker, Carmela Carrea. “Economic Footprint of the Channel Tunnel in the EU: An analysis of the value of trade traveling through the Channel Tunnel between the UK and EU countries.” June 2018. https://www.getlnkgroup.com/uploadedFiles/assets-uk/the-channel-tunnel/180604-EY-Channel-Tunnel-Footprint-Report.pdf/

Hunt, Donald. The Tunnel: The Story of the Channel Tunnel 1802-1994. (London: Images Publishing, 1994). ISBN: 1897817347.

Minihane, Joe. “How the Channel Tunnel changed Europe forever.” 4 May 2019, CNN.com. Includes video about how the world’s longest sea tunnel was built with 13,000 English and French workers. “A shared achievement that should stand the test of time.” https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/channel-tunnel-anniversary/index.html.

“New Channel in the Chunnel,” Lusk Brooke, 6 May 2014, Building the World Blog. http://blogs.umb.edu/buildingtheworld/2014/05/07/new-channel-in-the-chunnel/

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported Licen

May 12, 2017
by buildingtheworld
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Mothers Walk for Peace

Image: Photographer, Rebecca Eschler, 2008. Wikimedia commons.

A higher purpose, above ground; a safer world, below. Why not send cars and trucks underground, where new roads for autonomous vehicles might be easier to build? Elon Musk, of Tesla and SpaceX fame, envisions cars positioned on platforms that descend to traverse networks below ground. A similar design was earlier suggested by David Gordon Wilson of MIT whose palleted highways would increase speed and decrease accidents. Tunnels have changed transport around the world: the Channel Tunnel and the Mount Blanc Tunnel are recent examples. Boston depressed the Central Artery, resulting in a Greenway atop with a special park called the Mothers’ Walk. Nearby, walk towards a better world with the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute for the Mother’s Day Walk for Peace. Will Elon Musk’s underground highways promote a cleaner, safer environment with more parks above where people can walk and nature flourish? It’s an exciting idea with a name that belies the innovation: The Boring Company.

For more: mothersdaywalk4peace.org

For Elon Musk, watch the YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpDHwfXbpfg

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

November 4, 2016
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Faster Than A Speeding Bullet Train

Chuo Shinkansen: Japanese “flying trains” will travel 1 mile every 10 seconds. Image: wikimedia commons.

What’s faster than a speeding bullet, a phrase used to describe Superman? The new Shinkansen, or Japanese bullet train. Japan Rail announced the design of a magnetic levitation train that will achieve speeds over 600 kilometers per hour (374 miles per hour), or 1 mile (1.5km) every 10 seconds. Maglev trains are already in regular service in China: Shanghai and Changsha; as well as Korea, in Incheon. When Japan hosted the 1964 Olympics, Shinkansen was introduced, with the Tokyo-Osaka line. By  2002, Shinkansen had transported 382 billion passengers, with a 99% on-time record. Japan’s success inspired France’s TGV and Germany’s Intercity-Express. Maglev Chuo Shinkansen will shoot from Tokyo to Nagoya in 40 minutes; the line will soon extend to Osaka. Japan will follow a new law passed in 2001 that decrees that developers need not purchase land above, if digging more than 40 meters (131 feet) below. The law names the underground territory as daishindo (extreme underground). When will Amtrak emulate Japan’s leadership in train transport?

Hongo, Jun. “Tokyo underground: taking property development to new depths.” Japan Times. 12 April 2014. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2014/04/12/lifestyle/tokyo-underground/#.WBuoQygylDJ/

Lo, Andrea. “Can mega-fast maglev revive Japan’s rail reputation?” 3 November 2016. CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/31/asia/japan-record-breaking-maglev-train/

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

June 9, 2016
by buildingtheworld
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Tunnel (En)Vision

World’s longest tunnel, Gotthard. Image: wikimedia commons.

The Gotthard Base Tunnel, world’s longest, opened to fanfare and diplomacy, and a ballet corps of 600, in June 2016. The Gotthard massif has long challenged transport efforts; Gotthard now joins the Mont Blanc Tunnel in traversing mountainous terrain. Boston’s Central Artery/Tunnel Project also features a tunnel to bring vehicular traffic underground while a new greenway park graces the urban landscape above. Tunnels are an ancient instinct: moles know the routes underground, while human endeavors appear to have been early home-improvement projects by cave dwellers adding a second room. Land tunnels preceded water transit ways such as the Channel Tunnel. But all tunnels have one aspect in common: emissions trapped in a contained environment. Research contrasting on-road carbonyl emission factors in two highway tunnels, Caldecott Tunnel near San Francisco, California and Tuscarora Mountain Tunnel in Pennsylvania, was conducted 2002. WSP|Parsons Brinckerhoff recommended jet fans to move fumes through long road tunnels. But could there be a better solution? Will the EPA‘s capture and sequestration research apply to tunnels? Might ExxonMobil and FuelCell Energy‘s innovation to cleanse carbon dioxide from the exhaust of natural gas- and coal-fired plants be applied to other situations? Carbon capture could take on a new meaning if tomorrow’s tunnels might become channels for environmental improvement.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

March 10, 2016
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Hyperloop Pod(cast)

Duke Ellington’s theme song: “Take the ‘A’ Train.” Image: wikimedia commons.

Duke Ellington once sent a note to Billy Strayhorn, giving directions to his New York apartment. As the Pennsylvania pianist rode the rails, another kind of note came to him, a song: “Take the ‘A’ Train.” Public transport, whether the A Train or the Hyperloop, is an opportunity to engage the traveler. For example, in Beijing, on subway Line 4, riders can scan a barcode on their mobile device, opening a cultural window. Each month, ten works of Chinese culture are offered, the collection rotating in connection with the China National Library. Opportunities for bystanders to become understanders could expand in Japan, originator of the QR code that combines four modes: numeric, alphanumeric, byte/binary, and kanji. Shinkansen, Japan’s fast train network, opened to success for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. As Shinkansen improves and expands, will Japan use QR codes as cultural portals? Hyperloop is projected to zoom from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 35 minutes. At speeds reaching up to 760mph, (as contrasted with proposed high-speed rail taking 2.5 hours at a top speed of 200 mph) passengers will remain seated, perhaps especially ready for a Hyperloop podcast. Design of Hyperloop passenger pods recently opened to student competition.  MIT won the January 2016 round when Elon Musk invited top contenders to demonstrate their designs on the SpaceX California Test Track later in 2016. Included in the design of the passenger experience might be cultural transport with a nod, and a note, to Ellington and Strayhorn.

Ella Fitzgerald sings “Take the ‘A’ Train.”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJ_4cRG8B1g

Nath, Trevor. “Hyperloop System Vs. High Speed Train: What’s Best for California?” 29 October 2015. http://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/050815/elon-musks-hyperloop-economically-feasible.asp

Patel, Neel V. “After Winning the Hyperloop Competition, MIT Looks Ahead.” National Geographic/Inverse.com. 17 February 2016.

Hyperloop.mit.edu; @MITHyperloop.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

 

July 30, 2015
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Channels of Migration

Photo: Makisig, “Malinta Tunnel, Corrigedor, Philippines,” wikimedia commons.

Eurotunnel estimates that 37,000 people may have attempted migration through the Channel Tunnel. Tragically, fatalities have occurred. People seeking a way out, a way forward, another way, are using the tunnel linking France and England. In a world challenged by climate migration, political migration, and employment migration, what kinds of channels can be safely provided to get from a troubled “here” to a better “there?”

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

May 29, 2012
by zoequinn001
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It’s All in the Timing

The Canal des Deux Mers was not a new idea by Riquet’s time, although he perfected it. The Archbishop of Toulouse headed a special commission chartered by King Henry IV (1553-1610) to study feasibility of a canal linking the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Henry IV was following a line of similar visionaries. Even Charlemagne wanted to build the canal. There is evidence of ancient Roman emperors trying to engineer the route. Charlemagne, to be fair, didn’t have the technology. But Riquet was able to conquer a rocky patch near Beziers by blasting a tunnel – measuring 157 meters (515 feet) long, 6.7 meters (22 feet) wide and 8 meters (27 feet) high – with black powder. It was one of the earliest uses of explosives in subterranean construction.

The tunnel as it exists today, from canaldumidi.org

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Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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