The Null Device

Trains should replace planes

A British environmental thinktank says that high-speed trains should replace air travel on short-distance routes across Britain and Europe. Citing environmental damage caused by air travel, the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution is calling for extra charges on air travel to represent the environmental cost, and a shift towards high-speed rail. Which all makes sense.

(Tangent: Which reminds me of something I read in the Guardian weekend magazine whilst in London; an ecological pundit in the UK (in Scotland, I believe) posited the idea that everybody should have a fixed annual number of carbon credits, which would be depleted whenever they used a car, rode a bus, used heating, &c., in proportion to the amount of fossil fuel used. To save the world from imminent doom, he argued, the allowance would need to be set so low that most people would only use cars in emergencies. Credits could be bought and sold, so poorer people could sell theirs, ride bicycles and wear thick jumpers, and the rich could buy enough to holiday in the tropics. True to form, the author of this proposal eschews travel to overseas conferences, sending addresses on cassette instead.)

(Tangent 2: Intercontinental rail will be a different issue altogether; I recall that the Russians were planning a rail tunnel from Siberia to Alaska some years ago, which would make it possible (if slow) to catch a train from London to New York.)

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