We may not be right about our estimates of the worst polluting commuters, at least I wasn’t, with the airplane topping my list. A study conducted by Mikhail Chester and Arpath Hovard of the University of California, Berkeley, has revealed that all our assumptions aren’t correct and it is the train not the plane that causes maximum damage.
The study took into consideration aspects that we never thought of before, comparing 11 modes of transportation on an equal footing. The comparison is well drawn as it considers the pollution created by factories whilst manufacturing the commuters, the distance traveled in the lifetime and even the number of passengers on each commuter in a lifetime.
Same study reveals that the pollution (considering all the additional polluting resources) doubles the greenhouse emissions for a train, increases one-third for a car and is up by 10 to 20% for the planes thanks to less polluting infrastructure required to manufacture them.
The politicians are pondering hard over ways to cut down pollution and this study could be of great help. They would now know that a better connected bus-train transportation format would be the least polluting. Also, they would realize the life-cycle emissions generated by cars, buses and aircraft are predominantly through the tailpipe emissions and therefore a fuel efficient or an alternate source powered engine would be ideal.
Rational solutions could foster the green revolution and at least we have a number of them revealed through this study.