Name Date Course Section/# Air Pollution: An Analysis of Why Trains Have not Been Utilized as a Means of Protecting the Environment and Increasing Efficiency of Transportation One of the unique questions that exists within the construct of pollution and the ever diminishing resources that the Earth holds for its human inhabitants relates to the use of trains as both a better and more efficient means of transportation…
Firstly, one cannot begin to consider the question of whether establishing a train system would benefit the greater good without coming to a broad understanding of the fact that trains are inherently more efficient means of transportation than cars. For instance, a train is capable of moving multiple tons of cargo or passengers for the equivalent of 1 gallon of fuel; conversely a car, even at the most efficient level, requires at least one gallon to move 1 person more than 25-40 miles. Given this efficiency based argument, it comes to the central question of why trains are not utilized as a means of both saving money and the environment. The first reason for this is of course the issue of cost. It has been estimated that building a train system across the United States that would mirror train systems in Japan, Europe, or other developed regions around the world would cost trillions of dollars (High Speed Rail Overview 99). Such a program could of course be started under the logic that like Eisenhower’s Interstate program, the economic benefits would ultimately be repaid to the government over time due to economic gains of more rapid and cheaper transportation; however, the fact remains that the initial price tag associated with such an endeavor is so staggering that few if any politicians are willing to take up such a cause during one of the most trying and difficult economic times within the nation’s history (Boyd 38). Moreover, another factor that ties directly into the issue of cost is the level of debt that such a project would necessarily entail. As such, due to the hesitancy of the political leaders and many of the citizens to add on to an already monumental national deficit, no such project has been suggested. A secondary issue that is keeping the train from being further developed within the United States has to do with the unique culture that has seen the car become a type of iconic American symbol of freedom. Seeking to categorize this level of iconoclasm would be futile in such a brief work; however, suffice it to say that the car itself has become intrinsically tied to the American understanding and expression of individualism and freedom. In such a way, being a passenger on a train diminishes this feeling of individualism as everyone on the train arrives at the given destination at the same time and via the same means (Frohardt 339). Although this can of course be seen as a bit of an over simplification, it is doubtful that such a cultural understanding of freedom and transportation is likely to change within our lifetime. Although the implementation a rail system within the United States and throughout much of the rest of the world would doubtless save tens of billions of gallons/liters of fossil fuels from being burned and sent into the atmosphere in the form of carbon, the fact of the matter is that many nations are unlikely to develop these resources due to a fundamental lack of available cash with which to do so. More importantly, as one looks at the examples of modern train systems that function efficiently and hold these up as an example, one fundamental fact is noticed concerning them; the fact that each and every one of these nations or regions has shared a ...
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