Making Transport GREEN



Going Green has become fashionable these days. I wonder whether all of us fully understand the nuances of Green or we are trapped in oxymoronic definition of its synonym Sustainable. Green actually represents consciousness of our age. It represents a wide and loosely defined spectrum of thought, attitude, philosophy and practice centered around the concern for the environment. We have green resources, products and processes like green energy, green buildings, green agriculture, green transport, green cities, green electronics, green computing, green chemistry, green pharmaceuticals, green fabrics to name a few. Any product or process is green if the emission of carbon dioxide which is a greenhouse gas is minimal during its fabrication and usage, it has consumed minimum of non renewable resources including energy and water, it has been made of recycled materials, it is recyclable after its useful life, it has utilized local resources, it respects other forms of life during its formation, usage and disposal.  It seem a tall order but it is not necessary that the entire wish-list is fulfilled, the more of it the better.  We realise that there are shades of ‘greeness’. Getting completely green product or process is utopian. We also realise that green revolution is not green. The objectives of green revolution were noble but the means such as use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and irrigation techniques were not green. Now people are shifting to truly green ‘green revolution’ which focuses on no-till farming, organic fertilizers, natural pesticides, rain water harvesting and drip irrigation.
Worldwide transport is the most non sustainable sector. Efforts are being made to make it green.  Improving public transport system, running trains and other vehicles on biodiesel and ethanol, promotion of solar cars and battery operated vehicles, non motorized transport like pedal bicycles are some efforts in this direction. The ultimate green transport could be vehicles run on hydrogen as hydrogen produces water on combustion instead of carbon dioxide.  As of now not much innovation has either achieved in solar cars or fuel cell operated vehicles or the generation of hydrogen from renewable sources. In hybrid and battery operated vehicles the issue is regarding the electricity which has been used to charge the battery. If electricity is green meaning if it hydro or solar then the vehicle is green whereas if the electricity has been obtained from thermal means then the vehicle is not green. So the only green transport choices we are left with include Bus Rapid Transport System, car pool and bicycles. Of course walking, the first mode of transport is most sustainable. One bus of commuters is six times more efficient than a car with single person. Bus Rapid Transport system of Curitiba of Brazil is worth emulating. Individual efforts like promotion of cycling or car pool is not going to be sustained until and unless government takes some concrete steps. These could be anything from streamlining of public transport system and providing lane/track for cyclists on all important routes. There should be adequate and free parking space available for cyclists. Walking and cycling environment could be improved in cities by introducing arterial bye-passes and ring roads. Recently  faction of environment conscious people have started a group ‘Re-cycling Kashmir’ to promote cycling. Hope they are able to motivate masses towards this green mode of commuting. Apart from a green option, cycling is a healthy option too. My cardiologist friends would agree that cycling is a good aerobic activity and pedaling at 10 kilometers per hour burns 240 calories per hour. Let us hope that administration provides cycling friendly infrastructure and policies for cyclists of Kashmir. Let us make Srinagar a cycle friendly city like Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Groningen, Gothenburg and Delft. Green transport leads to green cities. So our next target should be to make Srinagar a green city like Curitiba and Masdar.

(Dr Rubab teaches Physics at NIT Srinagar, follow her on

Lastupdate on : Sat, 14 Apr 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 14 Apr 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 15 Apr 2012 00:00:00 IST

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