Improve: The Urgency of Decarbonizing Transport
PHOTOS FREEDIM OF DREAM @ stock.adobe.com
Naomi Klein in This Changes Everything.
Naomi Klein in This Changes Everything.
Greener transportation leads to cleaner cities and skies. Improving the energy efficiency of transport modes and vehicle technology will have a transversal impact on citizen's quality of life. Although the decarbonization of vehicles has been a goal for seemingly an eternity, a number of challenges remain before these modes of transportation can reach cost and energy efficiency.
In this scenario, we suggest alternative ways of energy extraction and vehicle fueling, as well as improved vehicle infrastructure possibilities.
The traditional internal combustion engine along with its predecessor, the steam engine, have helped society achieve incredible accomplishments, thus helping develop constantly-improving methods of transportation to take us farther, faster. Without the two of them, our society would have likely continued to be agrarian and rural like our ancestors. At the same time, they have polluted our skies and solidified our reliance on fossil fuels, causing environmental degradation as we continuously search for and pluck these valuable resources from the Earth. The extraction of coal and petroleum is already well beyond acceptable levels. In 2018, humans consumed an average of 99.3 million barrels of oil per day; this number is growing. A wholesale switch to sustainable sources of energy needs to be made.
It will not be easy. The oil industry is the second biggest industry in the world. As a nonrenewable natural resource, the value increases as it becomes more scarce. Regional conflict complexes tied to petroleum have killed millions, so although shifting to greener renewable alternatives might appear like an undoubtedly good alternative for the planet, there are high financial interests at stake. Not everyone has bought into the switch yet either. Many politicians are against investing capital into economically friendly ventures; some private enterprises feel the same. It will take significant advancements to overcome these obstacles and demand greener technologies in order to supplant the fossil fuel-reliant ones.
Increasing pollution in cities is leading to more health issues. Despite the global focus on reducing vehicular emissions and developing more environmentally friendly forms of transportation, this sector continues to be one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gases. Thankfully, many Biofuels are being tested and slowly implemented, as well as other solutions such as Perovskite Solar Cells. Yet, Electrification of vehicles remains the most popular alternative, carrying a very important advantage in relation to other energy resources; its infrastructure is already spread worldwide, we already know how electricity works and we already have the means to implement it into vehicle layouts across urban areas. One of the last remaining major hurdles is increasing the efficiency of electric batteries to compete with gasoline combustion engines. Once that occurs, direct competition and equal footing will likely cause electric vehicles' adoption to skyrocket.
While the possibility of living in a world fueled by fully renewable, green energy grows increasingly likely, we still have a long way to go in terms of cost and accessibility — especially in developing countries. The massive infrastructure shifts needed to implement sweeping green technologies are a distant afterthought in places still lacking the infrastructural solutions covering basic human needs. In short: providing water and shelter must be addressed in conjunction with enormous investments in sustainable technologies. The two go hand-in-hand and can complement each other upon implementation, skipping the ecologically unfriendly practices of the western world. Knowing that the world will run out of oil in about 60 years, we are running out of time.