Dr. Tighe must be on vacation, since he hasn’t posted this story yet. IHT.com reports that the Dutch plan to build a new island, and Slate‘s new video service has an Explainer about it.
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Yes, I was away, but I missed the story. I had heard about plans to create an artificial island for additional runways at Schiphol Airport. Between the nearby towns and noise ordinances, expansion in any direction but seaward is impossible. Presumably this represents a slightly more realistic proposition than the tulip island. (An island in the shape of a joint might, in its own way, look a little more natural, I think.)
John, I just got back from a second 15 hour train trip (Leiden to Wels can be done in nine and a half hours if you take the German high speed train, but we took the night train instead). Presumably that’s slightly better from a consumerist standpoint than taking the car. Do you, or does anyone else, know how much worse (I’m guessing here), environmentally, it would have been for us to fly?
It seems to me that trains are about the best thing you can do (short of restricting your social and business interactions to a small town) both in terms of economy and environmental impact. I’m not sure how to calculate the resource consumption for using a train (although they are the dominant mode of transportation in some nations that have better consumption rates) but I found a document on a website (http://www.aef.org.uk/) that gives the grams of C02 per kilometer as 45-130 for a “normal suburban” train which is better than the 145-260 g/km for an “average” car and blows away the 210-330 g/km for a long air journey. The same document claims that suburban rail gets 50-150 miles per gallon, while a long air journey is 20-30 mpg. When you consider that a Hummer H2 gets 9.6 mpg air travel seems comparatively reasonable.
And really, when looking at environmental impact, you have to consider a per-rider average, or some equivalent for cargo transportation. No wonder I get so angry when I see a Hummer out on the roads.
So, if I feel compelled to feel guilty about something, it should be about upgrading to a four person (rather than six) sleeping compartment. But there are also two person compartments, so I still get to shake my head (or my fist) at someone.
I should add — thanks, John, for getting some real data! It made me wonder if the relative advantage of rail versus automobile is greater in commuter or long distance travel. Off the top of my head, I would guess that an automobile benefits more (that is, reduces its footprint more significantly) than rail when transitioning to greater distance travel. My logic being: even at a local level, rail traffic is managed fairly centrally, and gridlock may cause less of a loss than it does for autos.
By the way, the idea of artificial islands makes me think of The War with the Newts, which is a fantastic book if you’ve never read it.
Good ol’ Ironic Sans has a post about other possible custom islands.
For the completist, we should mention Dubai’s earlier work, the Palm Island Resort.
… and let’s not forget (I’m on a roll here) Kansai International Airport, also an artificial island. Engineers predicted it would slowly sink into the sea, which was half right. It sank quickly (8 meters under its own weight during construction), and had to be reinforce at great expense.
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