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Cimate Change, Oil Prices and Transportation

Updated on June 5, 2008

Is Anyone Considering Amtrak and Magnetic Levitation Trains?

The United States senate is currently debating a Climate Change Bill. This is an important first step toward addressing the problem of cardon emissions and its influence on climate. Still, so far the debate has focused--both pro and con--on the regulation of carbon emissions by industry and petroleum powered engines. Obviously these are contributing influences to carbon emissions, and so it is important to discuss ways in which we can reduce these emissions and simultaneously begin to implement the use of alternative energy resources.

Most of the technology to reduce these emissions and alternative energy resources already exist. But "how" we will begin to address the current problem--"the ways and means of actually making the transition to these alternative sources of energy"--is all part of the current political debate taking place in the United States senate. Although, it needs to be pointed out here that so far the specific discussion of these "ways and means" has failed to be part of this debate.

Transportation concerns have also been raised in this senatorial debate, yet these have so far focused on alternative energy sources for cars and trucks (bio-diesel, natural gas, methane, etc). Indeed all of this is a worthwhile and necessary discussion. Nevertheless, what has been strangely absent from this discussion so far is increasing the use of Amtrak and other rail services for public transportation. Likewise increasing the use of rail serves for distributing food and other material goods has also be left out of this discussion. Many of these systems are already in place. The infrastructure may need to be updated, which is a concern, and worthy of discussion--a discussion that would primarily be about expanding the use of current technology.

Some may raise the issue that public transportation by rail is a solution that could be adopted for urban centers (which already exists to some extent), but what about rural areas and trans-continental travel? This raises the concern of other unused current technology that we have known about for at least 20-years: Magnetic Levitation trains; often abbreviated as Meg Lev trains. To conceptually understand how these trains work exceeds the limits of this essay.

My primary interest in mentioning Meg Lev trains is that current technology already exists to address the problem of climate change due to cardon emissions. But this is not part of the current "Climate Change Bill" that is being discussed in the United States senate. Nor are Meg Lev trains or even existing Amtrak/light rail travel part of the current Prisidential election discussions. We will take up the need for this conversation in greater detail in a future essay.


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