The Wall Street Journal ran a nice piece on Monday looking at 9 cities around the world and steps they’ve taken to reduce energy consumption.
Some of the highlights:
Chicago’s efforts to plant rooftop gardens to cool municipal buildings.
Amsterdam’s cool water air conditioning system.
London’s “localized power” concept – moving energy generation closer to users.
- New York’s tidal generation – this is my personal favourite.
The only one on the list that didn’t make sense to me was Bejing. Apparently, in an effort to both cut energy consumption and reduce pollution leading up to the Olympics, Bejing has been focusing on closing and moving a number of cement kilns, coal mines and chemical plants. I think the key piece is the moving aspect. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t count as reduction if you’re just shifting the plant to another area…but I’m not an scientist, nor am I Chinese.
If we ever have any hope of reducing our dependence on the personal automobile, I really feel we need to find an alternative that still gives someone at least the appearance of privacy and personal space.
I remember seeing something on “podcars” a number of years ago and thinking what a great idea they were. Then the concept seemed to fall off the radar.
Now it appears that London Heathrow will be running a short (3.5 km), driverless, podcar network to transport travellers from the parking lot to the terminal. While admittedly small, simply having a functioning, public example of this technology goes a long way towards eventual public acceptance.
While eliminating personal transportation is probably the best option from an environmental standpoint, I think actually working towards that is unrealistic and doomed to failure. We like our personal space, we like having the ability to choose when we take trips, and we like not sitting next to that guy who smells of onions, cigarettes, and Aqua Velva. I think something like this might be step in the right direction in moving us away from our current modes of transportation towards something a little more sustainable.
Next up, flying cars from Bob Cummings?